People tell you that you are a tolerant individual. You are patient and you are capable of tolerating insulting behavior. However, when it comes to working in a noisy office you can’t say the same, and fortunately, it is not just you.
A study conducted by the Cornell University College confirmed that noise is the most frequent complaint amongst workers in an open-office environment. While open offices are designed to increase productivity and teamwork, research proves otherwise. In fact, results showed that prolonged exposure to noise leads to decreased productivity, fatigue, lower morale and can have serious consequences such as increased illnesses and stress.
So, what do you do when you have to work in a noisy office? The answer is whatever works.
1. Escape the Reality
The best way to block the annoying noises is to put on your headphones and concentrate on what you are doing. Drown out the sounds of chatty voices and telephones ringing and just focus on the music that’s coming out of your earphones. This ‘fight noise with noise’ approach can be effective as long as you can work while listening to music. If you can do that naturally, then this should be the ideal solution. If not, noise-cancelling headphones are also a good choice.
2. Learn to Work With Noise
Did you know that your ears are an incredibly useful tool that can be trained? Apart from training your ears to find perfect pitch in music, you can also train them to block out noises that come from the surrounding environment. The way this works is you selectively choose what you want to focus on and block out noises that are disturbing your peace. You can practice this skill of canceling out background noises while listening to music when you’re doing something else, e.g. when trying to sleep, so that you can get used to noise easier.
3. Stay Home
If your boss gives you the permission to work from home, then you should take the opportunity. Perhaps you will find that you are more productive when working from the comfort of your home especially when you lock yourself in a room where you can find some peace and quiet. But, that’s not the only way you can work. Other alternatives could be going out to a park or to the nearest public library that offers you both the silence and the resources you need.
4. Take Short Breaks
Background noises can stress you out and affect the quality of your work. If you find that you can no longer focus on what you are doing, don’t put more pressure on yourself; instead take a short break until you regain your equilibrium. Stand up and get out of the open-space area, stretch your body, go for a walk or try out some relaxing exercises to help you calm your nerves. Sit comfortably, breath slowly and think about something that you find relaxing. That should do the trick.
5. Confront the Noise Makers
If nothing else works, you still have the option of confronting the noisy nightmare. So whether it is the employee who never puts the telephone down or the one who likes to make noise while he eats that is causing some serious problems around the office, you need to tell them off. Approach them nicely and ask them to keep it down a notch as there are people around who are simply trying to do their job. This should make things better, but if the problem insists take it to the managers and they will know what to do. Perhaps they will find that some changes in the cell phone policy are in order.
When this absence of silence disturbs your peace, affects your productivity, and it’s just more than you can take, try out these tips to find out what works best for you.
Have you ever worked in a noisy work environment? How did you cope? Let me know in the comments section below…