Interruptions in an open plan office.
*** what can be done? ***
Well, it seems to me that open plan has many strengths (after all, communication is usually the biggest problem in any company) but lots of problems too, and most companies haven't really thought about how to handle it. We are still at the forefront.
Clearly distractions and interruptions are going to be the main disadvantage of open plan.
Ideally you'd have a signalling convention, agreed by all, to show when a person does not want to be disturbed.Examples of these are: paper cup on top of your PC screen (as used by Hewlett Packard).
fluffy toy or any other mascot (horrible bald monkey in the case of one person) on top of PC screen signifies busy (as used by MCorp).
wearing a red baseball hat (as used by Asda!)
toblerone-type signs on top of PCs which can be rotated to say "Busy"
the second best way is to have your own "self-defence system" like. (and I've seen all of these!).
putting on headphones - big ones so everyone
can see.cotton wool dangling out of ears inflatable model of The Scream (painting by Edward Munch) placed on desk to say "I'm having a panic / bad day, leave me alone!"
sign on back of chair saying "Please do not disturb me before 11.30! or sign on rope across entrance to cubicle.
third option is good old assertiveness - tell people, either as a one off (I'm a bit busy right now) or about their habit (you keep interrupting me). Best to use the four step process (Understand /Feel/Want/OK?) - e.g. "I know you're in a hurry etc, but I'm feeling really under pressure, and I just need to be left for an hour to finish this and then I'll help you, is that OK with you?"
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