Distracting noise can be a loud and clear problem, especially with the modern workplace trend toward open office layouts. Noise, especially office chatter and external noise that you have little to no control over, is disruptive to people’s workflow, increasing stress and decreasing productivity.
Listen to our fives ways to deal with distracting noise pollution.
Collaboration is lovely but not when it’s preventing others from being productive. Set off meeting and conference spaces, whether formal or informal, for the conversation to bloom without raining on others’ working parade. Have a separate breakroom or communal area that is conducive to hanging out, eating, and taking a break, which will keep some of the idle (and productive) chatter to more social spaces.
Move printers and other equipment to a separate alcove or into common areas so one poor sap isn’t stuck by all the machine noise and unwanted conversations provoked by foot traffic.
Mark off some noise-free zones requiring strict, library-like silence to allow people to seek refuge and get stuff done on their own, away from the madding crowd.
What one listens to at work is a highly personal choice, as one size does not fit all. Listen to music on headphones, which comes with the benefit of being able to signal to others that your “door” is closed and you’re busy working on your own. Some people go the non-music route, muffling noise with ear plugs or noise-cancelling headphones.
Music can also be distracting and lower productivity. You may be familiar with the term white noise, but such noise comes in different colors, masking different spectrums of noise, chatter, and distracting sounds. Try Simplynoise which offers white, pink, and brown noise. Chatterblocker makes distracting speech unintelligible using nature sounds like ocean waves or an inoffensive chatter hum. Rainymood is a super simple ambient noise tool.
Reduce the noise levels with quieter machines, like HP’s quietest workstation, the Z600, or ProLiant Microserver, a general purpose server specifically designed for businesses with less than 10 clients.
Lower the volume on phone ringers and on the pings and beeps orchestra of technology alerts.
Interrupt the path of sound reflecting off of hard surfaces by installing noise-reducing ceiling materials and dividers. Carpets and curtains are not only great for décor but are effective at absorbing sound. Plants are effective also noise reducers. Scatter them around the office near wall surfaces and corners where noise will bounce off.