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👩‍💻 Think about noise & deep work
Offices can be noisy, distracting places. Are you setting your team up with the environment they need to do their best work?

According to Georgetown professor Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, we should all be unplugging from email and other comms platforms and working for long stretches of uninterrupted time every day.

Think about how you can personally carve out uninterrupted time for your deep work – and encourage your teammates to do the same.

Remember that people have different working styles and what works for you might not work for others. Ask your direct reports about the environment on a regular basis to make sure it’s working for everyone.

The opposite of what you want when you’re just trying to get some work done
Music in the office can be a lightning rod issue. Make sure it’s acceptable to all and have options for those who don’t love it, such as quiet space, subsidized noise-canceling earphones, or a bucket of earplugs.

Consider that for certain people – most commonly introverts and highly sensitive people (HSP) – open offices can be utterly unbearable.

While you probably don’t have control over the layout of your space, there are some tweaks you can make to maximize productivity for all:
💡 Discuss & establish ‘Do Not Disturb’ norms as a team. Maybe you agree that headphones are a sign to keep back, or that switching off notifications is fine if you have the option of an SOS phone call for anything truly urgent.

💡 Carve out quiet (or noisy) space. Consider co-opting a meeting room or lobbying your property team to create new small spaces designed both for solitary deep work and highly disruptive phone conversations.

💡 Allow working from home and other flexible arrangements to give people the power to work when and where maximizes their productivity and happiness.

💡 Block time for deep work. Encourage people to proactively manage their diaries around deep work blocks for concentration (NB as a manager you need to respect these blocks!).

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The bottom line?

Inclusive workplaces aren’t just about interpersonal relationships. They’re also about the physical environment in which everyone works – is it serving each individual equitably, or is it subtly insinuating certain people don’t belong?

Noise and deep work are important for productivity flow: if someone works better by using the time for deep blocks of concentration, working from home, or under specific lighting, try to be respectful and accommodating of their needs.

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