Workplace Wellbeing: Tips to deal with office noise

  • Posted: August 23, 2018

Looking for something in the shorter term to deal with office noise? Here are our top five tips for keeping your hearing, focus and sanity:

1. Signposting & Headphones

If you find yourself constantly being distracted or interrupted, creating a sign or signal that you’re not to be disturbed may prove beneficial.

This might be using your headphones, demonstrating you need to get down to business (while singing Duran Duran’s Rio in your head). If it’s a critical telephone conversation or a focus task and you lack an office door to close, using a sign on your desk is a great visual signifier to remind others around you to keep the noise down.

2. Social Etiquette

Most of the time, we don’t realise how loud we’re being (especially when the Lombard Effect kicks in – hope you were reading our previous article closely!) so a gentle reminder shouldn’t go amiss.

Showing respect for their conversation will undoubtedly help and demonstrate that it’s not the subject matter or the people themselves that are bothering you.

If its deadline day or you have a series of urgent phone calls, telling colleagues in the morning over a coffee should remind them to keep the noise curtailed when working around you.

Project Edelman, 2017. Workspaces are separated by function allowing individuals or teams to work simultaneously with little disruption.

3. Ask to move

If noise is a persistent problem in your office and it’s having a negative impact on your ability to concentrate, ask your manager for a quieter space to work.

Explain the benefits of how you’ll be able to perform more efficiently with a higher degree of satisfaction (maybe don’t go straight for the stress and heart complication rationale). As long as they have space to move you, this line of reasoning should win over any manager, and by making them aware of the situation, it should set them on the hunt for a longer-term solution.

Project Orsted, 2018. With spaces designed as retreats, the sofa configuration within the room creates a cosy space to concentrate.

4. Personal sound barriers

If you have free reign over your workstation, ask for desk panelling to block the sound of others.

Plants are nature’s sound absorbers. A screen or hedge of plants not only provide a green alternative to cubicles, but they also absorb and deflect sound waves in an office, providing a more pleasant workplace with a lower level of background noise. It’s suggested that plants with rough bark and thick, fleshy leaves are particularly suitable for this.

The GRID system provides opportunities to separate workspaces while still integrating nature into the office.

5. Take a break

You’ve probably seen the recent profusion of articles on how ‘sitting is the new smoking,’ experts suggest being active twice every hour.

By getting up and moving around the office, we’re able to breathe deeper, take in our surroundings and shake off that feeling of being pinned to our desks. Bringing your lunch away from your desk is an excellent method for making the most from the time out.

Project Notcutt House, 2017. Several breakout spaces provide a getaway for staff throughout the day.