Posted In // Design Tips
Noise in the office: a common complaintNoise may seem like a natural part of the workplace. Obviously productivity generates a certain hustle and bustle, and one of the great things about being in the office is the collaboration and communication it allows.
However, office noise has its downside: it’s incredibly distracting – and especially so in the era of the open office. In fact, back in 2013, Fast Company listed noise first in its reader review of complaints about open floor plans. Most of the noise is talking, whether work-related or idle personal conversation. Talk chatter is joined by typing, eating, and even coughing and sneezing. All these things can be distracting and hurt your office’s productivity.
These reader comments are backed up by a 2013 analysis from the University of Sydney, who determined that lack of sound privacy was the most major issue hurting employee morale. That held true in both open offices and cubicle environments.
How to maintain peace & quiet in your officeWhat can you do? Here are a few tips:
#1 – Create dedicated quiet areas.
If there is an office that isn’t being used, or a little-used conference room, consider converting it into a Quiet Room, explain Christopher Calisi and Justin Stout in the Harvard Business Review. “These spaces are designated for non-group work and can help provide a place for workers to be more productive than at a shared desk or in a cubeless office,” they note.
#2 – Consider music.
One way to mask the noise disruptions in your office is to actually create more. Letting your workers help to control the music going through the office system can help build your company culture, suggests Jennifer Stukenberg of South Florida Business Journal.
No one will be thrilled by every song, but putting together a diverse soundscape that is based on employee requests can generally build rapport and keep people motivated. You can set genre suggestions for certain times of day, basically broadening as you go: acoustic or classical in the morning; introduction of milder electric songs in the afternoon; and anything goes once 4pm hits.
#3 – Bring in noise dampeners or other acoustic products.
Here are three office solutions you can use to lower the noise, as suggested by Knoll (see below):
1. Applied & wall-mounted – These acoustic products are modular units that you can place around the office where they’re most needed. They are made of fabric or felt adhered to an acoustic foam substrate.
2. Suspended panels & baffles – With this category of noise dampeners, you place them in a perpendicular direction from the ceiling to absorb sound in areas that tend to be particularly noisy. Some solutions are arranged vertically to the ceiling, while others are horizontal.
3. Freestanding – If you want to optimize your flexibility, this type is a strong choice. You would then have panels that you can move to wherever they’re needed. You can use them to form a perimeter for activity spaces or for individual enclosure at a workstation. Desktop panels are also available.