What a plug.

Gateley has advised lawyers who can't bear the open plan office to buy earplugs.

Staff were treated to a partner's pitch for a specific brand as part of Neurodiversity Celebration Week, although sources detected a cunning ruse to make Gateley's open plan office more appealing to lawyers working from home.

Open plan "is great for collaboration", wrote the partner, "but for some being in the office can be overwhelming and overstimulating". 

"Introducing loop engage earplugs.”

“Comfortable, versatile, and also stylish, loop earplugs can help you focus, provide sensory comfort, and even be used for better sleep”, he enthused in the intranet article.

"Distracting sounds", such as Dave from accounts chasing for timesheets, "are muffled", and “even the tap, tap, tapping of keyboards is softened, making focus the number one priority”.

“Once in, you are even able to wear your headset over the top without interference, meaning you're still able to engage in those phone calls and Teams meetings”, said the partner, and if the heating breaks they can put earmuffs on top of the headset and the plugs and become a sonic turducken.


“Testing these out myself, I can honestly say they've exceeded my expectations and have made a major difference to working from the office”, said the partner, who invited colleagues to “Discover the perfect way to live life on your own volume with this exclusive offer”.

Staff were amused to see that an affiliate link was included, suggesting that the partner would get a payment for each sale achieved via their informercial.

The commission element was “undisclosed”, said a source, who suggested that marketing the earbuds as a boon for the neurodiverse while “sneakily having someone pocketing the cash referral” was “a bit on the sly side”.

A spokesperson for Gateley told ROF that Gateley's internal communications team unknowingly created the affiliate link and that the blameless partner “wanted to share their story to help other neurodiverse employees within the business and not for any other reason”.

“It was a genuine mistake and as soon as the team realised the error in posting the affiliate link it was changed and was only live for a short time”, said the spokesperson, adding that no-one received a monetary benefit from sales via the article.

Gateley pointed out that its earplugs plug was not the only article it shared during Neurodiversity Celebration Week about the "many resources we have available to support our people”. 

Here are the others:


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Tip Off ROF


GATELEY20 for 20% off 26 April 24 09:44

lol what anon 26 April. I don’t need to hear the senior associate berating the new trainee whilst I’m trying to draft an SPA.

Woodsist 26 April 24 11:52

Considering half the firm seem to be leaving or have left I don’t think a packed office is problem. 

I’m astonished that the firm’s full-spectrum staff exodus hasn’t been on ROF more. Thank god I’m lucky enough to be counting down the days.

Compo 26 April 24 12:36

Gonna start a class action for all the poor souls forced to work in open plan with body inserts just to earn their wages. Post-modern slavery.

Anonymous 26 April 24 13:25

The mass resignations/sackings have been kept quiet internally so how would they make their way to ROF?

papercuts 26 April 24 13:45

"If you cannot handle open plan then you're a fanny."

I suppose that’s the level of debate among open-plan afficionados – lazy ad hominem drivel. 

Even my kids prefer their desks in their bedrooms when doing homework, preferring to avoid the relative clamour of the living rom.  And that's kids, doing homework.

 How silly it is to pay people massive salaries for complex work, while providing them with a work environment worse than the average homework-doing kid has access to.  

Clients paying £1000+ per hour deserve better than to have lawyers thinking and drafting in the sonic equivalent of a coffee shop.    

And what about client confidentiality?  In my view, it's a structural breach of client confidentiality obligations to lump solicitors into an environment where colleagues and juniors and other random individuals can eavesdrop.

Of course, one can easily do average, cookie-cutter work in a noise-filled environment.  But to get into a zone of effective thinking, one needs a quiet, interruption-free space.  It takes at least an hour before one is submerged in the intricacies of detailed, bespoke drafting, wherein you are holding disparate commercial and legal priorities in mental suspense.  You can do an OK job in the bingo-hall environment of open-plan, but you’ll do better in a quiet, interruption-free space. 

If you are 100% productive in open plan, then you're not doing anything too complex.  Perhaps you're in HR, or marketing, or management, or filling in blanks on committee-produced precedents.  

 It's the HR berks and the senior management berks who push the open-plan nonsense, as it suits the lower intelligence levels required for their jaw-jaw "work". 

The real reasons for this call-centre baloney are cost-cutting, peacocking managers who measure productivity by “the buzz”, and sad-sacks with no lives outside work. 

And, obviously:

Royal 26 April 24 15:19

When I worked there, there was hardly anyone in outside of Wednesdays and Thursdays. I quite liked making one of my office days a Friday as it was deserted, even the office admin were in the pub without fail by 12.

MH 26 April 24 15:45

Managed to keep a straight face on a Teams call when told that this has sparked an internal witch hunt. Well done everyone.

Gate 01 May 24 16:00

Gately. Or perhaps it should be called, no gates on your workspace.


Seriously, what is the benefit of open plan? Open to interruptions from annoying coworkers who could have figured it out if they applied themselves for more than 7 seconds.. Considered rude if you wear nose blocking headphones. Distractions from people moving about. No privacy for calls, which clients absolutely love (/s). Loud coworkers audible to your clients on your calls. No more collaborative than other environments. Junk idea. 

Lovin' the Hog 03 May 24 08:00

We did a work audit which showed that 80-90% of lawyers' time was quiet work and 10% collaboration - which is why we kept cellular offices but introduced collaboration spaces (which we call "smartie rooms" - because the seats are all different colours). There is one floor of open plan, but like Bruno, we don't talk about it..

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