10 Rules for Surviving Your Open Plan Office

Have a Phone Zone
It's important to have a private room where people can make phone calls without being overheard. © G. Baden/Corbis

Overhearing phone conversations is one of the things people hate most about the open office plan. It's annoying and distracting to listen to someone else's phone conversation during the workday, and in offices without walls, this happens quite frequently. It's perhaps even more annoying when you're the one on the phone and it feels like everyone else is listening to you, especially if you have to discuss a sensitive or confidential topic.

It's not your imagination if you think your neighbor always appears to be shouting when he's on the phone; everyone's voice actually rises when on the phone [source: Cunningham]. And then there are the times you need to call the doctor or vet, and it feels like your colleagues are listening and judging you when they hear you're not conducting a work-related call, even if such calls are acceptable at your workplace. No matter the scenario, there's an easy solution. Create a private phone zone or two. Encourage employees to make their most sensitive or lengthy calls in this secluded area. Everyone will benefit.