I recently joined a software company. It has open space concept. I find it very noisy and counter productive. I use noise cancellation headphones but it is not practical to use it everyday when I am in office. I feel it is not healthy to use it everyday. I posted the question in stack overflow because I am sure many software engineers face similar problem. I am curious to know how others tackle this :)
Keep out the noise
If possible, wear headphones when you need to concentrate. Some may even prefer earplugs but that would be a little extreme and your colleagues might view you as an anti-social who does not want to mix with them. Listen to your favourite music and keep the noise out. That way, you can concentrate better on the job at hand and meet the deadline.
Tell Them to Shut up, Gently
If you need some peace or require a little less noise in the office in order to work, talk to your colleagues and get their cooperation to tone down their conversation. Do it tactfully so as not to offend them. Do it professionally and inform them that you would appreciate some quiet for you to concentrate on an urgent job, and do it firmly by keeping your tone firm, yet level. They do not owe it to you to be quiet. You are requesting them to help you out by keeping down their voices. This way you can get your work done in peace without offending anyone.
Embrace the Noise
The adage "If you can't beat them, join them" will be very tempting to apply in this situation but the bottom line is, you still have a task to complete. Embrace the noise around you by mentally blocking out the noise and concentrate on the task at hand. Master the art of mental noise block, which will come in handy for you to function anywhere, anyplace, regardless of the environment and still be able to produce work.
Talk to the Boss
Apply this tip only if all else fail and the situation gets out of control. Talk to the relevant authority in the organisation about the working environment which has hampered your ability to concentrate at work. If you do not know who to talk to, approach your immediate superior and explain to him/her about your issues. Let them decide on the next step to take. Approach this topic with tact as you do not wish to be seen as a "tell tale" who tells on others who complains all the small matters to the boss or the "social outcast" who cannot bear to see others talking and enjoying their social interaction at work.