A growing number of employees find that a lively, open-office workplace brimming with the sounds of enthusiastic colleagues working together makes for a positive, invigorating place to collaborate on work projects. However, others strongly disagree. They find that unwanted office noise interferes with their ability to get productive work done. So how do you make all parties happy with the level of office noise in their workspace? We have some recommendations for you!

Why should I care about noise?

Office noise can be more than just an annoyance. Multiple studies have shown that too much noise in the office can seriously reduce productivity and increase stress, not to mention lower job satisfaction and employee morale. In fact, research shows that 49% of workers report not being able to concentrate easily, while the average person loses 86 minutes per day due to distractions.

How do you create a positive work environment?

The open concept style of workplace conveys a confident, modern design language that’s especially attractive to Millennials who have unique ideas about how work environments should look (like a hipster coffeehouse). Managers and space planners also like the overall efficiency that these spaces provide because they hold out the promise of flexibility and collaboration-driven innovation. But there can be significant downsides if you are not careful. Unless there is proper planning for acoustic comfort, these open office designs, with their hard, noise reflecting surfaces, can wreak havoc on employee satisfaction among those who find extraneous noise to be a productivity deal-breaker.

What are some ways you can reduce office noise?

Install Noise Friendly Flooring

Hard flooring surfaces like natural wood, porcelain and ceramic can wreak havoc within a work setting due to the massive amount of noise pollution they create. While carpet is an ideal flooring solution for noise reduction, vinyl flooring is a versatile alternative thanks to its ease of maintenance and variety of design options. Vinyl flooring by itself boasts sound absorption qualities, however adding the right-engineered amount of rubber underlayment provides additional values.

Offer Dedicated Quiet Space

Once in a while, it’s good to get away to a quiet place within your workspace. While empty conference rooms make for great makeshift work sanctuaries, some companies incorporate dedicated quiet spaces within their office layout. Quiet rooms have grown so popular in fact that a furniture maker in Michigan designed a glass-encased, 100% soundproof office cube.

Put on Some Noise-Cancelling Headphones

If redesigning the office is not a feasible option, perhaps the easiest way to reduce noise in your open office space is by purchasing a pair of high-quality noise-canceling headphones. Some quality brands even boast 100% noise reduction using microphones and special processing to create an opposite sound wave than the one headed for your eardrum.

Control the Background Noise

A proven noise reduction strategy in open office space involves fighting noise with noise. Seems counterintuitive, but white noise played in the background at a consistent level is proven to help mask unwanted sounds.

Consider Sound Friendly Furniture

Couches, lounge chairs, wall partitions, and filing cabinets can all have an impact on the acoustics of open office spaces—especially high backed couches or enclosed booths that essentially separate a person from the rest of the room. Do your research on office products. Even if you can start with just a few pieces, they will gradually make a difference.

Be Creative with Your Office Layout

Another way to reduce office noise is to get creative with the overall office layout. For instance, desks that are situated close together in clusters help compartmentalize noise, especially when groups are separated by some of the sound-friendly furniture mentioned earlier. Even simpler, perhaps some of the noisier office equipment (i.e. copy machine, printer, fax machine) can be situated in a separate room away from employees.

How do you deal with a noisy colleague?

Research indicates that the most distracting type of noises in the workplace are the unwanted/unrelated conversations that you can’t help but overhear. The mind can’t help but want to tune in and make sense of conversations we can hear, even if it’s as banal as hearing about re-scheduling a babysitter for your colleague’s 10th-anniversary dinner on the evening of the second Tuesday of next month. The best thing to do is to kindly have a discussion with them and explain that it’s not their fault, but you’re having trouble focusing. You can even come up with a signal to let them know their conversation is carrying!

How can you reduce office noise?

Office Space Interiors can help. Not only are we trained and experienced in Sound Management, but we are available for consultations, office space planning, and walking your business through the process of a holistic approach to creating the best work environment. Give us a call at (317) 694-7197 or visit https://www.ispaceoffice.com/.

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