Open offices – with their modular seating and minimalistic aesthetic – have become the go-to workplace layout over the last couple of years. This type of office setup was supposed to be a less expensive alternative that fostered a collaborative, open atmosphere compared to the more traditional office spaces. While it is certainly less expensive than installing cubicles, this type of environment can be extremely difficult to work in. Here are five tech tools to help you focus and be more productive in an open office workspace.
1. Noise-canceling headphones
These are a must-have for anyone who works in an open office. Even if you don't like to listen to music while you work, the noise-canceling setting allows you to literally tune out the noise happening around you. While some models are a little pricey – the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones go for $349 – there are affordable options. If you want to splurge on a high-end pair of headphones, see if your employer will spring for them as a work-related expense.
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2. Smart monitor stand
Working in an open office can also mean fighting for desk space. The Satechi F1 Smart Monitor Stand can combat that. This monitor stand not only allows you to keep your desk tidier, but also has four USB ports with data transfer speeds up to 5Gbps, separate microphone and headphone jacks, two sets of legs to adjust the height of the stand, and a weight capacity of up to 22 pounds.
3. Smart writing set
Crowded conference rooms can make it difficult to ensure you have enough room to bring your laptop to meetings. The Moleskine Smart Writing Set allows you to handwrite your notes and then go back and digitally edit and annotate them via the Moleskine Notes app. The set includes the Pen+, equipped with a mini camera at the tip to digitize what you're writing, and the Paper Tablet notebook, which has the classic leather-bound notebook design Moleskine is best known for but is also embedded with nCode technology to allow the Pen+ to record and transfer everything you write and draw to the Moleskine Notes app. The app is available on iOS and Android devices and can sync to your Google Drive or Evernote accounts.
4. Multi-device keyboard
If you must toggle between working on your phone, tablet, and laptop or desktop, it can be annoying to have to stop typing on your keyboard to answer a text on your phone or fire off an email on your tablet. A multi-device keyboard can help with that. Logitech's $58.45 multi-device keyboard is a normal-sized keyboard that can connect to your various devices at the same time. It has a built-in cradle to hold your phone and tablet at the perfect angle for reading and typing, and a dial function to let you choose where the keyboard is typing. It's compatible with Windows and Mac computers and iOS, Chrome and Android tablets and smartphones.
5. Portable laptop monitor
As mentioned before, desk real estate can be difficult to come by in open office settings, meaning there's usually only room for one desktop or laptop per employee. If you're used to working with more than one monitor, switching back to one screen can be difficult. Portable laptop monitors, like this one from Packed Pixels, can help increase your productivity without taking up a lot of additional desk space. The monitors are available in multiple sizes and resolutions and are compatible with most laptop brands and operating systems.