How To Deal With Workplace Noise

The days of a big private office are quickly coming to an end with the adoption of open floor plans in today’s offices.  And while there are many benefits to open spaces like collaboration, easy access to your team, spaciousness, natural light and lowered costs, there can be a big price to pay.

Noise. Noise. And More Noise. 

Whether it’s your co-workers engrossed in sharing their weekend plans, loud printers, noisy air conditioning or nearby phone calls, noise can be very distracting.  In fact, in 2014,  two prominant companies, Steelcase and Ipsos conducted a study that showed that employees lost precious productivity time (as much as 86 minutes per day) due to noise distractions.   That’s almost an entire workday lost each week!

Other studies have shown that when we are constantly bombarded by noise, our ability to concentrate is diminished and our stress levels rise.  So, here are some strategies to help you manage the noise in your office so that you can stay on top of your game!

Listen Up!

  • Get Yourself a Good Pair of Headphones.   A good pair of noise canceling over the ear headphones can do wonders to block out noise.   Headphones also free you to listen to whatever you want (without judgement or disrupting anyone around you) and can help you boost productivity.  Earbuds can work too, but the verdict is out on their long-term health to your hearing and are not as effective as over the ear headphones at noise reduction.
  • Mask the Noise with Background Sounds.  Ambient noises are known for making us more creative and productive.  But they can also mask office noise.  Speech noise to be specific.  This is what studies show us is the most distracting of all the noises in the office.  So, try playing a low level of white noise, ambient sounds such as rain and other sounds from nature.

Take a Time Out!

  • Find a Quiet Space.  If your work already has a quiet space or work cave that you can take advantage of, by all means, use it.   They really do work!  You can also see if you can book a conference room for phone meetings that are sensitive or that you need quiet for, or just to work for a period of time in a quiet space. If there are no places to escape to, talk to your manager, facilities team or whoever can help to create one!
  • Take a Break From The Office.  This can be in the form of a real break.  (Like, actually get  up and away from your desk for at least 15 minutes and NOT check your e-mail, texts or phone type of break.)  Your break can also mean working for a bit outside your office.  Is there a nearby park that you and your laptop can go to for a bit?  Or how about a walking meeting?  Changing your environment and getting away from the noise that is bothersome can do you wonders.

Last But Not Least, Speak Up!Talk to Your Colleagues

  • Talk to Your Colleagues.  If the source of noise is coming directly from chatty colleagues, muster up the courage to talk to them.  Explain that the noise is distracting and discuss ways to respect each other’s space.
  • Talk to Facilities. If noise continues to be an issue, bring it up with facilities to help trouble shoot and find solutions.

We’d love to hear from you and find out your tricks and tips to stay sane in your noisy workplace!

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 9.58.08 PMUntil the next time,

Vivienne & Andrew




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