In most office jobs, there will inevitably be times where some chatty or loud coworkers are being too noisy. It can be especially hard to deal with if you're in an open office, spelling bad news for your productivity as well as employee harmony.
Need some help keeping out all that excess noise? Here are 7 ways to keep the things quiet at work so your performance doesn't have to suffer.
1. Fill your ears instead
A recent study by Oxford Economics stated that in noisy open offices, only one percent of employees can successfully block out noise and other distractions by themselves.
Here's where music, a white noise machine, or just plain silence can come in. Use noise-canceling earbuds with isolation for the music. Keep the volume of music or white noise low -- enough to distract you, but not enough to risk hearing loss.
2. Reorganize your work
One of the most useful skills employees can have is adaptability in different situations. It holds true for how you approach your tasks and how you stick to a schedule or routine.
If there's a certain time of day when your coworkers are too noisy, it might be a good time to take an earlier (or later) lunch than usual. Alternately, do the low-concentration tasks during that time if possible.
3. Take a break
Your stress increases when you're stuck sitting at a desk for hours at a time, so take advantage of the noise by taking a break.
Have a few minutes where you take a short walk outside or have a pick-me-up in the break room. Stretch. Climb up the stairs.
It's said that "sitting is the new smoking." Even the best ergonomic furniture won't protect you from the effects of a mostly sedentary workday. This is true no matter how many times you hit the gym a week.
Researchers recommend standing up for two minutes 16 times a day, or twice an hour if you work full-time. But it's best if you're moving during those microbreaks to cut down on stress and the risk of lower back pain and other health issues.
Chances are not only will your coworkers probably be quieter when you return, but you'll come back refreshed.
4. Announce your needs to coworkers
Tell your coworkers as a group that you'll be doing something important and noise control is necessary. Include the time as a heads-up so they can work around it. Alternatively, you can bring up your need for less noise during a team meeting so everyone is aware and nobody feels singled out.
A tried-and-true way of letting coworkers know you need as much peace and quiet as possible is to hang up a sign at your desk or cubicle. However, this only works for those coworkers who happen to see or walk by your desk.
5. Set aside quiet times and spaces
When you get interrupted by noise, you lose your focus for up to 23 minutes. That's a long time to get back to any tasks at hand and even more so each time it happens!
Research also shows that when employees are interrupted, they communicate less. They are more inefficient and make more mistakes.
Employees need to know about acceptable noise levels. A policy where there are specific quiet times and spaces shows that employers value low noise levels. It's also very helpful to have areas just for employees seeking quiet.
6. Plan a better office or workspace design
The typical noise level of a large open office is 50 decibels, just about the same as that needed to wake you up from sleep. Translate this to engagement with work and it's clear that interruptions disrupt concentration and decrease productivity.
In this case, there are ways where you can make the design of the office or your workspace more efficient. An employee with a position requiring a lot of concentration would not enjoy sitting near the break room, for example.
Some areas would do better being enclosed with cublcle partitions, acoustical ceiling tiles or wall soundproofing pieces. If you have a hard floor that causes distractions, consider carpet to further dampen noise.
7. Get a Zenbooth
Over half of high-performance employees find their workplace too distracting and say they need more quiet.
If you don't have a quiet workspace to relocate to, consider a Zenbooth office pod. It gives you the mental privacy you need so you can think clearly and relax. As for soundproofing, it blocks 40 decibels of noise!
No open office is noise-free, but you don't have to deal with being interrupted by noisy coworkers. Use one or more of these methods to block out the talk and you'll be focused again in no time.
If you need a quiet space to work in, Zenbooth has a solution for your office. To learn more about how our phone-booth style products are the perfect fit for you, contact us.