It's an hour before you need to get these slides finished. The figures just won't come through how you want them to and the phone won't stop ringing. What's worse, the radio is playing the same hit-songs and driving you crazy. There's a big debate going on behind you about how to solve this problem that a client is facing.
Why won't they just keep the noise down. For. Just. One. Minute?
You need to avoid noise, right now. Here's some quick wins and lasting changes so that noise is no longer a problem in your office.
How To Avoid Noise In Your Workplace
- Wear Noise Cancelling Headphones
- Listen To Low Volume Music
- Place Furniture Tactically
- Use Sound Absorbing Screens
- Add More Plant Life
- Request A Quiet Working Area, High Back Seating Or Office Pod
Wear Noise Cancelling Headphones
When the noise around the office gets just that little bit too loud, wouldn’t it be perfect if you could just completely tune it out? And not by listening to music or the radio, we mean tuning out the surrounding noise into complete silence.
There are a range of headphones which listen to the noise around you and play the complete opposite sound into your ear. The result is blissful silence. It sounds strange, but it’s true.
Find out more about noise cancelling headphones here.
Listen To Low Volume Music
You don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy headphones in order to remove the distracting noise created in the office. A more cost friendly solution is to simply put in a simple pair of earphones and listen to some low volume music.
Just remember to not have the volume too loud or use the earphones for too long as both of these habits will harm your hearing ability.
Also, when it comes to productivity, try to avoid songs with lyrics or distracting melodies. Check out some productivity inspiring playlists on whichever music streaming service you subscribe to.
Place Furniture Tactically
Another simple and cost-effective way of improving how noise impacts you at work is to use existing furniture and accessory items to your benefit.
For example, if you have a shared meeting table in the office for ad-hoc discussions, make sure it’s placed away from people who regularly work on tasks which need high concentration levels.
If rearranging the office isn’t something you can tackle, try to set up your personal desk in such a way that your working position minimises distractions. If you have a colleague nearby who is regularly on the phone talking to contacts and customers, for example, set up your computer screen so that they are out of sight.
Small adaptations will make sure the visible distraction of somebody holding a conversation in your peripheral vision is removed but will, more importantly if noise is your most noticeable bugbear, help deflect the noise of their phone call.
Also try to make sure any soft furnishings - bean bags, soft chairs, coat stands, curtains - are around the noise generators. Whilst you might not be able to move some of these items, you can move teams and people instead.
Use Sound Absorbing Screens
If you haven’t already got some, purchase and place on your desk some acoustic sound absorbing screens. These intelligently designed boards help to minimise the noise level of chatter, typing and phone calls around the office.
Add More Plant Life
Adding some leafy plants around the office will also help to absorb sound and make staff feel better.
Tall plants around the office will help to deflect and absorb sound and stop it bouncing off the hard walls and reverberating back into the central area. But plants are also proven to help soothe and calm the mind when placed in an office.
This calming environment will mean that Noisy Carol in accounts’ retelling of her unfortunate meal out at weekend won’t quite grate on you in the same way it currently does.
Request A Quiet Working Area, High Back Seating Or Office Pod
If all else fails, it will be worth creating a quiet area where people can work where they won’t be disturbed. Like a quiet coach on a train, this quiet working area is a place where people can go and work in the peace and quiet.
The idea isn’t to work in this area all the time, but to have it available for when people need to work on high-focus tasks without the distraction of nearby conversations, typing and telephones.
These quiet zones can be dedicated rooms separated by partition walls, maybe pop-up office pods or even just high-backed booth seats.
What You Really Need Is Variety
The most common reason why businesses like yours struggle to fix the noise problem they’re experiencing is because it’s not a black and white issue. The issue simply isn’t that the office is too loud.
The issues arise at certain times, depending on what a person is working on at that particular moment, but on those days, the fact that a group discussion is taking place on the next bay of desks can be a massive distraction.
But when it’s Friday afternoon, all your reports are done and your inbox is empty, you can get on with a bit of easy work and have a chat whilst doing so.
Both of these previous two examples are offices which are “noisy” but the mood and tasks being worked on are what’s different.
The only way to get around different working preferences is to offer alternative spaces to work, depending on the time of day, mood of the employee and the task being worked on.
If you take one thing from this post, don’t let it be just a pair of £300 noise cancelling headphones; think more about the fabric of your office layout and whether it restricts staff in terms of where they work and when.
We have produced many guides looking at what your office needs to provide to a diverse range of staff, as well as what makes employees happy too, but we have decided to produce a guide dedicated just to managing noise in a more productive way.
See what’s the big deal about noise, how it can kill productivity and learn how to overcome this problem once and for all: