I work in open spaces a lot, my current job is in a shared open office. Open spaces are known to imped workers productivity. It’s one of the worst office arrangement, yet they are popular in IT. They offers a short-term gain: cheaper space, for an invisible –but real– price: less productive and satisfied workers. Noise and lack of privacy are the main causes of disatisfaction, and while it’s difficult to address the lack of privacy, something can be done about the noise. I deal with it via a two-pronged attack:

  1. Earplugs, I use Howard Leight Max, and there are lots of other good earplugs around with different shape and foam-type.
  2. Headphones with a Pink noise playing in a loop

This way I get a good isolation from the environment, and it makes interruptions awkward for the interrupter: he has to wait for me to take off my headphones and earplugs. This makes interrupting me more costly, which is a nice side-effect.

I have regular headphones; I wonder how good the combo earplugs & noise-cancelling would be.