How to be More Productive in Your Open Office or Coworking Space

Startups are infamous for their offices, or rather, lack thereof. Many startups adopt open floor plans or co-working spaces for the ease of use, collaboration, and low set-up cost. Natural light, space for a foosball table, and freedom from the oppression of corporate cubicles are an added bonus. While open office plans encourage innovation and the teamwork that makes the dream work, they can create a challenging environment to work in. How to be more productive and effective in co-working or open office spaces? Here are my productivity tips from the trenches:[bctt tweet="5 productivity hacks for open offices + coworking spaces from @sassyinsequins "]

Know Yourself:

In order to be effective in any office, startup or otherwise, you must first know how you work. Do you need silence or do you work better with music? Can you use a standing desk or must you sit down to work on a task? Does pacing while talking help you close more sales? Will a game of foosball be a good break or a distraction?

Knowing what works for you and your individual style of working is integral to being effective in an open office or co-working space.[bctt tweet="Knowing your own work style is critical to being #effective in an #openoffice, says @sassyinsequins "]

Rock Out:

Once you know what makes you tick (or ticks you off!) you can equip yourself to be effective. Noise-canceling headphones are good for those who want to muffle out the background noise that comes with an open office. Headphones are huge at startups. Literally.

If that's not enough, check out white noise apps or websites. Coffitivity is a website that provides ambient background noise similar to a coffee shop. This noise level taps into your brain to offset it just enough to foster creative thinking and improve productivity at work.[bctt tweet="Get in-the-zone in noisy #coworking spaces with sounds from @Coffitivity, says @sassyinsequins "]

Embrace the Space:

One of the great things about an open office plan is that there is room to move around - use it! If you find yourself lacking in productivity, a change of scenery might help jumpstart your thinking. That kitchen that holds all of the free snacks and an empty table could be where you come up with the answer to a problem that's been driving you mad.

According to a recent Stanford study, your creative output increases by 60% simply by taking a walk. Just because you have a desk doesn't mean that you're chained to it. Embrace the space and let it be your guide.[bctt tweet="Don't be chained to your desk! #Walking increases #creativity by 60%, says @sassyinsequins"]

Alright, Stop:

One of the biggest distractions in an open office environment is other people. Without an office or cubicle barrier, coworkers are more likely to engage in conversation or interrupt flow by stopping by your desk. But, just because you're out in the open, doesn't meant that you're open and available. If you're too busy to chat, be honest. Let your coworkers know that headphones mean you're in the zone, or that you prefer they shoot you an email to check that timing is okay for an interruption.[bctt tweet="Be #honest with coworkers when you need to buckle down and get stuff done, says @sassyinsequins"]

...Collaborate and Listen:

One of the best parts of working in an open office is being able to rap Vanilla Ice and have an impromptu dance party collaborate and listen to what's going on around you. While the headphones are good for zoning out, don't forget the rationale behind open office plans-- collaboration.

A huge benefit to an open office is hearing what's going on around you and helping out when needed- from Gchatting an answer to a coworker who is struggling on the phone to getting the thumbs up from a dev who hears you mention a potential bug, or even organizing a team lunch. Don't forget to take off the headphones and collaborate in your open office. You might be surprised at the ideas that you can come up with and problems that can be solved in an open office.[bctt tweet="Lose the headphones now-and-then: #coworking should be collaborative, says @sassyinsequins"]

When you know how to handle it, an open office can be an powerful resource for a startup employee - and the perfect excuse to spurge on those awesome new headphones.

Photo credit: Arjun R via Flickr cc