How to Cope with Working in a Cubicle

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A majority of corporate office settings utilize the cubicle work station set-up. However, some individuals find cubicles reduce their ability concentrate and be productive. If you are one of these people there are certain steps you can take to feel less confined and become more productive. This article will share suggestions on how to cope with working in a cubicle.

Steps you can take

There are several steps that can be taken to cope with the stresses of working in a cubicle. Each of those suggestions has been divided up into three separate groups: blocking out distractions, making strategic decisions and speaking with management.

1. Block Out the Distractions

One of the first steps you can take to deal with working in a cubicle amongst distractions is to learn ways to block out the various disturbances. In an office environment that has cubicles for work stations, there are many interruptions and commotions that occur which can distract you from your daily tasks. You have to deal with the noise from coworkers’ phone calls, conversations and other disturbances.

  • Listen to Nature Sounds – If permitted in the workplace, you can listen to music which helps you get through the day. However, music can sometimes be distracting to you or to others around you. Listening to nature sounds could be a better option for you to keep you relaxed and more focused on work and less distracted. You can download nature sounds for free at this website.
  • Wear earplugs – You can wear earplugs which will aid in blocking out noisy distractions. However, wearing earplugs will not completely drown out all of the noise that you hear around you. I work from home with a schedule that varies each day. My husband works a split shift in the early morning and late afternoon and is home several hours mid-day. If he’s watching TV or listening to the radio, I need to wear earplugs, but I also wear my headphones to assist in blocking out more noise.
  • Wear headphones – This option obviously won’t work for an employee in a call center or customer service department since he or she would be on the phone a good majority of the day. However, if you aren’t tasked to be on the phone—wearing headphones and listening to music you enjoy—can keep you on track with work, drown out distractions and prevent busybodies from interrupting you with chatter. When you wear headphones, you are symbolically sending out a message that you don’t want to be interrupted. If you want to work in silence and block out all other sounds of a busy work environment, you can invest in noise canceling headphones. This option is a bit more costly, but may be good for you if your work environment is highly distracting. has a listing of the best noise canceling headphones.  

2. Make Strategic Decisions

These next few suggestions only apply if you have any control over your specific work station. Depending on the leniency of management, you may have to discuss these options with your manager or the HR Dept.

  • Control seating – You may have the option to make changes to the seating arrangements and move to a quieter section of the office. Be strategic in your decision. For example, if you have a cubicle near the copier, break room, water cooler or coffee station, you are in a high traffic area and will experience many distractions. Another high traffic area would be having a cubicle near the entrance of the office. If you are easily distracted, controlling your seating arrangement can be a viable option.
  • Control work hours – Some companies are more lenient with when employees work. However, if you cannot control your specific work hours, make an effort to think strategically. For example, pace yourself and the tasks you need to complete each day. For work that takes extreme concentration, start earlier in the morning or work during the peak lunch noon hour when a majority of your coworkers are on break. Learn how to use time blocking techniques to become more productive while working in a distracting work environment.
  • Control work environment – Similar to the issue of working hours, some companies are lenient with the work environment. For example, you can check with management’s policies regarding working from home exclusively or one to two days each week. Remember that this option may not be viable for every work situation. According to, Mondays and Fridays are generally quieter days since many individuals opt to take off on either day for a longer weekend. The three mid-week days are usually the busiest in the office, so you can ask to work from home on one of those days. In a recent article, Vicki Salemi discusses how to ask your boss if you can telecommute.  

3. Speak with Management

Regardless of the option you decide to utilize, it is important to ascertain the current workplace policy pertaining to your plan to stay distraction-free. It is also important that you do not keep your frustrations to yourself. Seek out the counsel of your manager or speak to someone in the HR Dept. who can assist you in your options. If you don’t ask, you don’t receive. Do not automatically assume that your manager won’t care about your concerns. Remember that your manager’s job is to oversee the work activity of the employees. Creating a viable and distraction-free work environment would be in your manager’s best interest as well.

Coping with working in a cubicle work station is possible if you evaluate the situation and figure out the best option to help you become distraction-free. Ascertain the most effective way to block out distractions. Learn how to make the right strategic decisions for your current work environment. And always remember not to be afraid to discuss this issue with your manager. If you follow these tips you may just save your sanity while working in a cubicle. 




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