Are you distracted in your open office?

“Yes – yes – yes!” After hearing author Nir Eyal speak on his new book, Indistractable, I knew his wisdom desperately needed to be shared with frustrated “open office” workers who find themselves unable to concentrate.

(This month’s article by Rodney Lover – one of our atWork owners, and assisted by Kim Hussey –  our resident atWork writer… now back to the article 🙂 )

Nir Eyal’s golden nuggets in Indistractable can help both personally and the broader issue of open plan offices.

In Eyal’s book published just this past fall, he addresses us personally on how to control attention and focus while dealing with today’s incessant distractions.


In our 24/7 modern lives, distractibility concerns often center on the tech world. Although our emails, group chats and phones are important, they are dangerous if they consume our day with our repeated revisiting of them all day long.

Eyal describes the continuum line – traction on one end (staying on task) and distraction (keeping us from our focus) on the other… the end that is the core of the problem.

If your pendulum seems to slip easily into the distractibility side, try these simple steps from Eyal’s book “Indistractable” to keep productivity traction in your work:

  • Figure out the trigger that distracts you – Recognizing the internal trigger that results in you grabbing your phone is the discomfort that makes you want to take yourself away from the work you were doing.
  • Be aware of the transitions – We all have transitions in our days. Giving yourself rules or guidelines is a positive way to minimize the transitions. Turning off your notifications, closing the browsers with the exception of your current assignment or avoiding the draw to go talk to the person walking by you, or petting the dog in the next pod until a certain time will help.
  • Let others help you – Allow others to respect your need to work through the triggers and distractibility. Eyal suggests a simple red light sign on your computer or as an automated email response can help your colleagues know you are trying to stay focused.
  • Use your Calendar to help you – Eyal recommends a “timebox your day”, meaning we fill every slot on our calendar. Eliminating all the white space so you have a clear plan on how you intend to spend your time each day allows you to be more reflective of your time, refine your focus and productivity. This includes a time slot for email responses!
  • Commit – If you are aware of your time, tasks and triggers, be ready to commit to a renewed motivation to stay indistractable. That means we show up when we said we would.

Eyal writes that open office floor plans, despite previously perceived benefits, absolutely increase distraction so workers need to find intentional ways to defend their productivity and sanity. 

Open space brings us together, but is that working to our advantage while we are trying to work?

Years ago, open-concept designs became highly desired in home building, and the popular trend was mirrored in office planning – walls and partitions torn down, replaced with more footprint-efficient, office spaces and less cost.


But open areas can create environmental distractions.


Modern design preferences influenced by cool, young, start up companies include high-ceilings and hard durable flooring – which increase echoing acoustics. Adding to the discomfort… employers are trying to create home-like spaces in their environments, welcoming pets, installing tv screens, and playing music.

New Zealand researcher, Christopher Walsh reports in his article “ The dark side of hip office design”  that the vision of positive open concept office design may have backfired, seriously interfering with focused work success.

What’s missing with all these cool design additions? Silence and focus… the exact things that promote low-distraction, highly focused workers.

Is your team struggling to maintain a high level of productivity in the midst of chaos?

Maybe your company processes have changed but your office hasn’t and you need a serious redesign?

Reach out to our space planning team today. 

We would love to connect and help retool your office flow.

Lessen distraction and help move your team forward into a successful new decade.

Furniture featured – Scene series from Tayco

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