Office Noise: How To Deal With It For Better Productivity

Some of us like to work in a collaborative environment, while others prefer a quiet, private setting. Personality types and job roles heavily impact your team members’ preferences. For instance, an open-plan office or a distracting colleague can be a nightmare when a task needs focused attention. An oxford economics survey shows that people can’t perform best while dealing with unpleasant noise around them at work. According to the study, working without interruptions in an office environment is office employees’ primary choice.  

Several reports about office noise link its impact on productivity also in top-level research centres. Office noise is reported to distract even the occupants of the well-planned $1bn Crick Institute according to a 2017 report by The Guardian. Therefore, office noise is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed while designing offices and creating workspaces that improve performance. 

When noise enters the office, productivity and creativity go out the door. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how office noise impacts your employees. This article discusses various office noises and ways to deal with them to increase your team’s performance positively. 

Dealing With Office Noise

Various factors and activities can bring about unwanted noise. Whether it’s a loud co-worker talking, the noise of repeated keyboard typing, office equipment sounds, frequent noise of doors opening and closing, or external noise of traffic, it’s affecting many of your team members. 

Dealing correctly with office noise starts with proper site selection and construction details. Suppose you are building your office from scratch. In that case, you should include appropriate sound management planning apart from selecting the perfect location that isn’t around a noisy neighbourhood, such as busy highways, airports, or industrial areas.  

1. Manage External Sound

If your office space is in a compromised, noisy neighbourhood, you’ll have to deal with a lot of unwanted external noise. External noise, such as traffic or aeroplane noise can affect even the employees who don’t have problems working in an agile, collaborative environment where regular office noise is expected. 

Modern innovations, such as window glazing solutions can help you control external noise from entering your building or the office space. Explore creative office space designs and sound cutting materials to deal with such noise. 

2. Isolate Noisy Areas

Inter-space noise control is possible with the right floor plan. Different areas of offices, such as impromptu meeting zones, cafes, kitchens, and break rooms, deal with more noise. They can be isolated away from workstations to avoid noise distractions. Similarly, noisy office equipment, such as printers and copiers, should have a dedicated area, away from workstations. 

3. Set Up Specific Zones For Distracting Activities

Research has indicated that the most distracting office noise in modern workspaces is the unwanted or unrelated conversations that employees can’t help but overhear. 

Many noise-generating activities, such as loud communications and phone conversations, occur during working hours. These activities will undoubtedly affect other team members who are sitting close to the area. Creating specific zones for such activities can be a  possible solution. For instance, areas dedicated to particular tasks such as dedicated phone booths or group discussion cabins can help your team eliminate these common noise issues. You can also do some research on the most prominent noisy activities before planning for such areas. 

4. Create The Right Working Area For The Right People

Personality and job roles are the factors that heavily impact the work preferences of office workers. Some people enjoy a collaborative environment, while others prefer a quiet place to concentrate and perform. Similarly, some job roles require more collaborations and others need a high level of concentration. 

You should think beyond traditional office design to provide the right environment for people who can’t work under the influence of noise since the open-plan design doesn’t offer the best working condition for all your team members. Therefore, it’s essential to understand the need of your team first and plan your space accordingly.  

5. Look Up To The Ceiling And Down On The Floor (And In Between)

Your ceiling can help you create an aesthetically pleasing office environment while reducing internal noise. Various ceiling solutions can provide you with temperature control and noise control solutions at the same time. High-performance acoustic ceiling and wall treatments prevent unwanted sound from building up due to reflections. We recommend you to go through the whitepaper from Armstrongceilings to learn more about the performance of various sound control products for ceilings.

Carpets and engineered flooring systems can also help cut down office noise. Regular carpets control impact noises, such as footfalls from pedestrian traffic. However, if you add resilient padding products, such as shredded rubber mats, rigid foam panels, or cork-subflooring materials under the carpet, it can help control other noise as well. 

If you want to give your floor a hardwood or tile look and check the noise simultaneously,  opt for engineered floating floors. Floating floors simply lay on top of the floor structures without requiring fasteners or glue, which transmits sound. 

Using complete sound-absorbing furniture is also another way to reduce office noise. Sound-absorbing partitions and screens can help divide workstations and create designated working spaces with minimised noise. Additionally, the creative use of furnishing can also help you with acoustics.   

Introduce Plants

Adding indoor plants in an office can be beneficial in various ways. Apart from absorbing sound and improving indoor air quality, plants have been proven to improve physical health and performance and mental well-being

There is a wide range of indoor plants that you can include in your office space for various benefits. A few examples are the ficus tree, the peace lily, Madagascan dragon trees, and kentia palm. Use them according to your space availability. 

Ask Office Fit-out Experts

Interia has been providing the best office fit-out solutions throughout Australia for more than three decades. If you are looking to set up a new office space or refurbish an existing one, consult with Interia to create an ample office space that your team will love. Have noise issues in your office? Contact us today for the best advice and solutions.  

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