Noise in the workplace is one of the most efficient productivity killers there is. Not only that but it’s also one of the easiest ways to cause misinterpretations around the place. Moreover, a scenario in which it’s difficult to hear is usually not the one where people feel comfortable talking. Just think about it, is a nightclub a perfect place for a conversation? Of course not. Even though this comparison might not be that fair, you still get the point. As for any potential client visiting the place, the impression that they’ll get of your business will not be that favourable. All in all, here are several tips that can help you make this place into a more acoustically pleasant ambience.
1. Start doing some work on the walls
The first thing you need to do is try to make the space sound-proof to the outside world. It’s just outright ridiculous to try and resolve the noise created by mechanical keyboards (this awaits us later on) before you’ve dealt with the raging traffic just outside the office. Now, since you can’t just halt or redirect the traffic (no matter how much you’ve wanted to do it), what you’re left with is trying to seal holes in the wall, caulking spaces in your drywall, adding a layer of acoustic board to the walls also helps.
2. Work on inter-office walls, as well
It’s not enough to just separate your office from the outside world. The inter-office noise can be just as big, especially when it comes to the idea of keeping different teams in the same room, which often happens with open office spaces. Their topics are probably completely dissimilar but things tend to be even worse, due to the fact that they probably have different personalities, as well. Think about it, your sales team usually consists of extroverts, while your creatives might be predominantly introvert (even though there’s no rule that this will be so). This is why, instead of going with the traditional cubicle system (which is also something we’ll discuss).
3. Professional sound masking
Another idea that you could indulge in is the concept of professional sound masking done by specialized agencies like 45dB Systems. The reason for this lies in the fact that a lot of agencies overestimate their ability to efficiently handle this issue, which is why professional assistance is definitely a good move. Due to the fact that they believe that they can go by much cheaper, the truth is that worker productivity and overall sense of belonging depend on your ability to pull this off. Also, making sure that different areas of the place are sound-proof, may impact the confidentiality and security of information around the office. This alone can be something worth investing for.
4. The cubicle system
While a lot of people see this office layout as something outdated, the truth is that it can do wonders in order to make your office more orderly and more acoustically comfortable. This is due to the fact that walls act as natural barriers, muffling the incoming noise in the process. This creates an overall better sound layout in the room, which is something that you should never underestimate. Other than this, it gives your employees a greater sense of privacy, as well as allows them to decorate the place at their own behest.
5. Silent peripherals
The next thing you need to keep in mind is the fact that loud typing (we’ve already mentioned it), tends to be one of the biggest sound distractions around the place. That being said, you might want to think about investing in silent peripherals. A silent mouse and a silent keyboard can reduce the intensity of noise around the place quite drastically, yet, this is merely the top of the iceberg. Other than this, you also need to think about noise-cancelling headphones for your entire staff, due to the fact that this alone might make a massive difference. Sure, this is yet another investment in your office equipment that you may believe you don’t need, however, it’s definitely an investment worth making.
6. Move your breakroom
People can’t wait for the break to start chatting with their favourite coworkers, however, if your break room is too close to the office, people on the break might distract those who are still working. Ideally, you can solve this by having a mandatory break for everyone in the office but you could also pick a room that’s the furthest from your work area to act as a breakroom.
7. IM communication
Writing an email to a person that’s sitting just two desks away from you may appear absurd but try to imagine for a second what it would sound like if everyone in the office got the same idea at the same time. The truth is that this might not be that hard to imagine, so, in order to avoid this, you may need to encourage your employees to use team chats and personal IM channels for cross-office communication. This method is both simple and efficient.
As you can see, the majority of these methods are nothing unusual, probably even nothing that you haven’t been doing already. Still, even a single slip in one of the above-listed five fields may make your office less acoustically efficient, which is something that your productivity and comfort will suffer. Fortunately, eliminating these problems is fairly easy and it is something that you should get onto right away.
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