There are many pros and cons about working from home compared to in an office, however, noise is the one that stands out the most. Open-plan offices are becoming increasingly popular, with many offices across the UK featuring this style of workspace style and layout. The open space can create an environment that encourages collaboration between team members. However, it can be a hindrance to productivity for focused work. Working within these spaces crowded spaces and dealing with the excessive office noise was normal for us, until March last year.
For a little over a year, many of us have grown accustomed to working from home. Turning corners of our house or apartment into little offices, places where we could feel productive and separate work life from home life.
Working from home has also granted us control over the noise in your workspace. For some, podcasts and audiobooks have been great background noise, helping them be productive whilst they work. For others, it has been music and for a fair few, it has been the sound of silence. Regardless of which background noise choice a person made, the environment they were working in, for most, was on their own with hardly any disruptions from other people.
As restrictions begin to ease and the prospect of returning to the office on the horizon, many of us are starting to prepare for the transition back into the office. Although the number of people in the office will be limited, it will be more people around you whilst you work after over a year of working alone. Transitioning back into office life will mean employees will have a lack of control over the noise of the environment, which could potentially lead to a less productive workforce.
Aside from music playing and colleagues talking, various other contributing factors can create a noisy office. Factors such as traffic, construction close by, air conditioning, even obnoxious ringtones can be irritating to employees trying to work. While some of these are hard to control, there are ways to combat a few of these situations employers and employees can implement upon their return to office life.
If you are struggling with the thought of being back in a noisy office environment or are a business looking for ways to create a more productive workspace for your team, here are just a few tips on how to stay focused on the task at hand.
The Power Of Acoustics
Before the pandemic hit, open-plan offices were filled with the sounds of colleagues talking, phones ringing, clicking of a computer keyboard and even the faint sound of music from a speaker. While some could work through the noise, for others it was a struggle.
With offices soon to open, many company managers are looking for ways to transform their office space into a more productive workplace. Thankfully, Amos Beech have advice on acoustics, offering tips on what you need to know about how to create an environment that reduces and controls the noise within the office. These innovative solutions to control office acoustics can help in creating a productive environment, in which people will be able to work when they return to the office.
Blocking Out The Noise
There are only a small fraction of employees who can successfully block out the noise in the office and any distractions by themselves.One of the most common ways to block out office noise is by plugging in headphones or earphones and playing music, a podcast, or even silence.
Noise-cancelling headphones are not only an affordable purchase but are also a great way of blocking out excessive noise so you can concentrate on your work. Having the volume of your music or white noise low, enough to distract you from the sounds around you but not enough thatcould put your hearing at risk.
Quiet Times And Quiet Areas
Open-plan offices are a great way to encourage collaboration. When employees return to the office, it will be easier to implement safety measures, such as maintaining distance, so team members feel a little more comfortable being back in an office space. However, the main downside to open-plan offices is that they can create a significant amount of noise. As such, the only thing that company managers would find challenging to control is the overall noise of the office. If office noise levels are high, they can create an unproductive working environment.
For company managers who are looking to manage a potentially boisterous office when their employees return, consider designating certain times in the day, such as 8-10, as a quiet time. During this time, the office does not need to be in complete silence, instead, it should be quiet enough to be respectful of those trying to work.
However, if your office has a bit of extra space, consider creating a quiet area for employees to use.It does not have to be a big space, just spacious enough to allow a few employees to use and feel comfortable.
After spending a year working at home without much distraction from others, some of your employees might struggle towork in an office environment with others.Having an area that they can go to when the noise of the office begins to become a little too overwhelming, will be greatly appreciated for more introverted employees or those who prefer a quiet space to work.
Allow Time For Breaks
Sitting at a desk for an extended period only increases stress levels. When back in an office setting trying to work, surrounded by more people than you have become used to, will only further impact your productivity at work.
During the times when the volume of the office becomes a little too much, consider taking advantage of the noise and take a break. Whether it is making a drink or escaping to the break room, climbing the stairs outside of your office space or standing outside for a few minutes, these small moments can reduce your stress levels and re-ignite your focus when you return to your desk.