5 top tips to stay focused in a noisy office

Whether in an office of 8 or an office of 100, open plan can offer noise and unwanted distraction!

While research suggests open office is better for a collaborative work environment, there are still negatives that effect day to day performance for individuals.

Here are a few tips to stay focused in an open plan office:

  1. Noise Cancelling Headphones these are a fantastic way to keep noise to a minimum. Some people also adopt a stance of ‘if my headphones are in, do not distract or interrupt me, send an email for my attention.’ You could also try earplugs, but they can be more uncomfortable if worn day in, day out. Just make sure to communicate your strategy to those around you too, so they know you aren’t ignoring them!
  2. Go for a walk if you have wound yourself up by focusing on how frustrating the noise is, it’s time to take a 10minute walk outside to calm down, breathe, and focus (see point 3!). When you get back, if an option, move to a ‘quiet room’ or ask your senior if you are able to do your work in an area they can suggest that would be quieter. It helps address that you have an issue with the work environment, without directly complaining about it and showing you are solution focused.
  3. Meditation this is key to being able to work in an open plan office environment. Grounding yourself for the day will help you focus on tasks at hand and ignore/block out the background noise and more importantly, help you refocus your frustrated energy to work output. See The Mindful EA for exclusive content, or check out the Headspace app for free mediations.
  4. Use quiet rooms Not all offices have the luxury of a quiet room, but often there is a meeting room that isn’t always in use. Let your manager know that you find it difficult to work in a noisy space, and that from time to time you would like to work in the meeting room to remain productive especially when focusing on detail oriented tasks.
  5. Discuss ground rules as a team If working in a smaller office environment, a great way to avoid frustration is to establish ground rules as a team. I previously worked as an event manager in an open plan office of 10 of us highly energetic, extroverted people. Our work relied on collaboration and communication, however we often ended up talking as a large group about non work related activities. We therefore set ground rules that if you were needing to focus, you had the right to simply ask the team politely to either reduce the conversation and noise, or move the discussion to the meeting room. There was never any resistance or hard feelings about this because everyone knew at some point they would also need quiet and focus time, so we all respected each other’s needs.


In a bigger office, this may be more difficult, but I advise to speak to your manager about the issue, and look at where your desk is placed and if there is opportunity to move it if it is severely effecting performance.

Do you have any tips to stay focused in a noisy environment?

Let us know at info@theeainstitute.com.au

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