5 ways to quieten down your open office

Published: 01 August 2018 By Harvard Business Review

5 ways to quieten down your open office

Businesses can use an empty office or unused conference room and turn it into a “quiet room” that employees can go to when trying to focus on an important task or project

 

There are things that firms with open offices can do to reduce unwanted noise in the workplace

There are things that firms with open offices can do to reduce unwanted noise in the workplace

 

A beautifully designed open office can be a useful factor in recruiting and retaining talent. Is it possible though to have a gorgeous workspace and maintain peace and quiet, too? Here are a few things that businesses with open offices can do to reduce unwanted noise.

1

Provide dedicated quiet spaces. Similar to a quiet car on a train, businesses can use an empty office or unused conference room and turn it into a “quiet room” that employees can go to when trying to focus on an important task or project.

2

Provide loud spaces, too. In contrast, businesses can also designate areas around the office that encourage interaction and discussion. Lunch areas, games rooms or even phone rooms can help communicate to employees that when working at their desks, those are the times to be quieter, but should you want to partake in a heated debate, feel free to go chat in the game room. Providing small enclaves containing telephones can encourage employees to make phone calls without disturbing their cubemates.

3

Mask the sound by increasing background noise. It seems counter-intuitive, but adding more sound to an environment can actually make it seem quieter. Research suggests that noise itself isn’t distracting, but unwanted speech noise is. However, words that are incomprehensible are less likely to be distracting. By adding a continuous, low-level ambient sound to an environment (such as white noise, which sounds similar to the sound of airflow), sound masking can help make other peoples’ conversations easier to ignore.

4

Bring in sound absorbing materials without sacrificing design For the organisation that has a severe noise problem (think call centres or co-working spaces that are becoming very popular among entrepreneurs and start-ups), these materials can serve as stylish fixes that can be installed to reduce sound.

5

Looking for a more natural option?

Similar to planting trees along a loud highway, plants boast sound-absorbing capabilities that can work just as effectively in an indoor environment as an outdoor setting. – Copyright Harvard Business Review 2015

 

Previously published in The Irish Times.

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