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Transform your working space into a focus zone

It’s true that it’s a challenge to focus in an open-plan office. But don’t be fooled. The reason why you think you used to be able to focus better in your isolated office, was probably because of you and your capacity to focus, rather than the space you were working in. Moving everyone into their own offices is not only unattainable for most companies, it also won’t result in employees who are 100% satisfied. After all, not everyone benefits from the same approaches.

How to find more focus thanks to (or despite) your working place.

  • Work while standing up. The principle of embodied cognition. Your body position influences your focus.
  • Make sure your desk is clean. Clean-desk policies are not just there to make the work of the cleaning team easier. For an optimal peace of mind and focus you’d better not have a lot of clutter on your desk, after all. Only the things you need that day deserve a spot.
  • Make it clear to your colleagues that you want to focus. Go and sit in a focus zone (or a quiet space), or clearly indicate that you’re starting a so-called mammoth task. For example by putting a (miniature) mammoth on your desk.
  • Don’t put your smartphone on your desk. A recent study at the University of Texas compared a group of test cases who kept their phones with them during work (in quiet mode and with the screens turned upside down) to a group of test cases whose smartphones were in another room. As it turned out, the test cases who had their smartphones with them, were less productive than the employees from the other group. Why: the proximity of the device ensured that it was still appealing. Unconsciously, in your mind you keep wondering if you received a message or which calls you may have missed in the meantime.
  • Headphones can help you to focus in an open-plan office. Do choose music in another language than the one you are working in. Instrumental music is the best option for it causes even less distraction.
  • Use the right space. If you have to work in a very focused way, then search for a quiet space. Loads of companies have quiet rooms by now, especially set up for focus work. For creative work you’d better go outside, or nestle yourself on a comfortable couch.