Here to Help: How to Make an Open Office Easier to Bear

While designers and managers hope that open floor plans and "flexible" office seating will improve communication by encouraging people to talk to one another, more than a few studies have pointed out that they may actually do the opposite.

There are a few things you can do to block out the noise, focus and make your work space a bit more inviting every day.

MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME. A few personal effects, like a photo, a desk toy that expresses your personality or a sweater you can wear if it gets too cold (and we all know how chilly it gets in open offices) will make your desk feel like a place you can settle in and get work done. Add a water bottle, hand sanitizer and lotion, and it'll really feel like home.

Roy Mann, chief executive and co-founder of monday.com, a company that helps teams collaborate better, said he likes to keep a few clocks visible — not just the ones on your laptop or phone.

"We do this so that people can measure their time," Mr. Mann said, "understand how long meetings take, and assess how much time they're spending on projects."

USE HEADPHONES TO CANCEL THE NOISE. If you want good audio and a clearer way to signal "I'm working," you need a pair of over-ear, noise canceling headphones.

Both Wirecutter and I agree you can't beat the Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II. They're comfortable to wear for long periods, offer great audio quality and feature noise cancellation that will block out chatty co-workers.

GET AWAY SOMETIMES. Regardless of your work space, try to get away from it sometimes. Working from home is a great option if it's available to you. If it's not, try to find a quiet corner at the office.

Mr. Mann endorsed this idea. "Sometimes, you just need a few minutes of privacy or a room to focus and not be disturbed," he said. "The smaller rooms are essential to success in an open work space as it gives people an opportunity to work privately or quietly together. An open space also allows for large public areas to be built for gathering and socializing. For an open space to be effective, people also need to have the ability to sit alone or with someone else in private."

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