An introvert's guide to surviving an open office
Not a smoker? Take a smoke break anyway
The creation of the open office plan has to be some of Satan’s best work. Which sadist thought coworking spaces were a good idea? Sure, let’s take one long table, pull down any semblance of privacy and line people up. Give them only two options – gaze at your laptop all day till your brain melts or stare at your coworker’s face. You won’t have a choice but to listen to Simran complain about her child being bullied at school from 3 seats away or smell what Arjun has in his dabba today. God forbid you sit near the entry, then every passer-by wants to know if the boss is in.
For introvert’s, an open office plan is a living nightmare. There’s no escaping them now. Every hip new start-up that believes in ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ and ‘collaboration’ tout the many benefits of the setup. It’s more of a financial thing. Not having to build cubicles saves money and energy resources.
While the naturally lit open office with plants, large wooden tables in a common workspace, floor to ceiling windows looks great in stock images, just imagine the torment of a person who wants nothing more than to just focus on their business and get work done without constant interruptions and having your supervisor peer over your shoulder.
Unfortunately, the introverts have had to adapt with tricks and hacks to get whatever little solitude they can to concentrate and work without having to listen to Rahul aur Anjali ka jhagda going on in the background. There’s only so many times you can fake being a smoker to be allowed to leave the building for some quiet time. Here’s what you can do instead.
1. Sensory deprivation
You know the oversized music headphones that all influencer-turned-model-turned-DJs wear while spinning sick beats by clicking play on their laptops. The kind that cut out every possible sound in the office from your neighbour’s heavy breathing to the annoying ringtone of someone sitting 3 rows away. The giant headphones are a warning to anyone about to approach you – don’t. You can then upcycle the box you got them in into blinkers to attach to an old pair of glasses. There’s no better way to not get to know people and make friends than depriving yourself of your senses.
2. Befriend the security guards
If we’re to go by the first episode of Modern Love, then they can really be your truest friends. In this case, it’s a little more selfish. These are people whose job is to familiarise themselves with every nook and cranny of the space. They know every hiding spot. They know people’s timings and who goes where and when. Getting all the dirty details from them can be beneficial for when you want to sneak out (and when you need to poop at work too) and relax in blissful seclusion without anyone strolling by or interrupting your exercise in mindfulness.
3. Become a fitness freak
This could be a win-win situation. Get healthy and get some alone time to think in one – or you could just pretend to exercise. Take a break to ‘get in your steps for the day’ and just chill in the stairwell or outside your building (remember to preload the Google Drive app on your phone so you can get some work done too).
4. Tell people you have IBS
Nothing keeps people way like the chance of a mighty gas bomb coming their way. While flatulence at work or any public place is frowned upon, people thinking you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome will likely give you more personal (and physical) space at the office. There’s a chance you have to overthink all your food intake in front of people. On the flip side, if people see you chowing down on a masala laden grease-fest, they’re going to leave you to work in peace. They may even reconsider the entire open office plan.