An office should be an environment conducive to getting work done. A place where your employee can put their heads down and focus on difficult tasks without distraction or interruption. But for many workplaces, and particularly open-plan offices, the levels of noise throughout the workspace can get in the way.
A noisy working environment can hinder productivity and create delays for your business. One study shows that the average worker loses 86 minutes per day due to distractions. It can also create low-level stress for employees that can build into more serious mental health conditions like anxiety.
So how can you stop noise from ruining your office? Here are five tips for reducing unwanted sounds.
Dedicated quiet spaces
As an office worker, there will be times when you need to collaborate and communicate with coworkers to get tasks done. But there will be other times when you need to sit in silence and finish an important piece of work without distraction. An office should have dedicated areas for both communal and quiet work. Allocate an area of your office, perhaps a meeting room or empty office, to be a silent space where workers can knuckle down and not have to worry about unwanted noise intruding.
Add some greenery
This might seem like an off-the-wall solution, but a well-placed plant can be very effective at absorbing and reducing sound. Not to mention the fact that it will make your office look much more attractive. You can dot smaller plants such as cacti and succulents on desks and tables, or use larger plants to act as partitions between different sections of the office.
Invest in noise-canceling headphones
When you need to shut the world out and get down to work, a common solution is to stick your headphones in and listen to some music. But your average pair of headphones isn’t going to completely prevent noise from entering. What you need is a quality pair of noise-canceling headphones. For those members of staff who need their quiet time to complete important tasks, it might be worth investing in a few pairs of these headphones for the office to use when needed.
Separate noisy equipment
A lot of the background noise in offices comes from frequently-used equipment such as printers, fax machines, shredders, and photocopiers. You can quite easily minimise this noise by putting all of these pieces of equipment in a separate area well away from the main office. Some of your staff might grumble about the added walk, but a little exercise never did anyone any harm.
Improve the acoustics
There is a lot you can do to your office space to reduce the dissipation of noise. Changing up your hard flooring for more absorptive vinyl will prevent noisy footsteps, while installing sound insulation or sound-absorbing panels can be incredibly effective at reducing noise pollution. There are several ways to improve the acoustics, so it may be worth enlisting the services of a professional acoustic consultant to help you make the most of your space.