How to Escape Your Startup’s Loud Open Office

The open space office is all the rage, especially in startupland. Gone are the awful, stuffy cubicles and hello bright open space where everyone is equal. Right?

Sort of.

Everyone has an equal amount of desk space, but other than that, the principle of equality remains exactly that – a principle.

Your neighbor keeps making loud phone calls (it’s his job), you can’t stand the smell of herbal tea Jim from two desks down keeps pouring down his throat, and what about Carol from accounting who always peeks at your monitor over your shoulder?

This doesn’t mean you should have to suffer the annoying behavior of your colleagues without the filter of cubicles. In fact, there’s a lot you can do to escape this.

However, it’s best you get used to it since open offices will likely stay with us for a while. They’re more affordable, cost-effective, and easier to manage, which makes them ideal for startups with limited funds.

But this doesn’t mean you should have to suffer the annoying behavior of your colleagues without the filter of cubicles. In fact, there’s a lot you can do to escape this.

Move Around

Even though your desk is your home base in the open office, you don’t have to sit in that exact spot from nine to five. Use the office space as much as you can. Leave your desk for a quick dash to the kitchen if you feel like stretching your legs (especially when Jim arrives with another mug of steaming tea).

Similarly, you can make your phone calls from the corridor, check your mail at the watercooler, or read through your task list on the couch. Don’t worry, these little outings won’t impair your productivity. In fact, research suggests that moving around once in a while gives a boost to your energy and raises your productivity levels.

Lock Yourself In

However useful moving around is, you can’t avoid your desk forever. And if you’re the type of person that needs peace and quiet to work, being in a no(i)sy open office isn’t optimal for completing your tasks.

Luckily, there are some tricks you can use to “seal” yourself in your own quiet bubble of creativity and productivity, even in an open office.

All you need is a pair of good noise cancelling headphones. For most people, wearing them alone will tone down the level of noise to a low buzzing, which is a lot easier to ignore.

If you need more to shut out the hustle and bustle of office life, you can play white noise or nature sounds to help create the illusion of solitude.

If it helps you concentrate, you can even play music while working; just make sure not to break into your signature dance moves in the middle of the office. At least not until 5pm.

Work Remotely

Thanks to the internet, working remotely isn’t just the privilege of freelance journalists any more. According to a recent study, 43% of US workers have spent some time (if not all) working remotely.

Whether you’re waiting for the plumber, have a doctor’s appointment, or need a day of extra intense concentration, chances are you can notify your employer you’ll be away from the office, but will still be working full time.

Luckily, there are tools you can use to stay connected to your coworkers. Slack and Zoom allow you to communicate with your colleagues and participate in meetings without missing a beat. You’ll feel like you’re right there. Well, apart from smelling Jim’s tea.

And what if you have to send overseas payments to your startup’s business partners? This isn’t something you can only do from the office (or from the bank). Instead, try Veem.


Veem allows you to send and request international payments with just a click, from wherever you are. You can track all your transactions in real time and save your business’ capital, since Veem charges no wire fees.

Sign up for a free Veem account and enjoy effortless payments.



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