Open offices or shared offices can offer great benefits in terms of communication but they can also present challenges. We’ve all had problems with noise in the office - the incessant chatter of your colleagues ruining your concentration; people shouting over you when you are trying to have a conversation on the phone; perhaps even maintenance or construction work going on next door. It’s annoying, it’s distracting, and worst of all, there’s generally not a lot you can do about it.
Or is there? While on an individual level you might not feel like you can keep telling people to be quiet, there are other measures that can be put in place that may be more effective in the long term. By taking an active stance on office noise – or encouraging your company to do so – you could make your workplace a much more pleasant environment and even help increase your company’s revenue as a result of improvement in productivity.
Steps to control noise in the office
Managers, office managers or safety professionals can follow these steps to decrease the noise in the office.
- Carry a noise assessment. If you are in a position to do so, ask your health and safety officer or an independent noise consultant to measure the noise levels in your office throughout the day using a compliant noise measuring instrument. They will take readings at different times and locations within the office to find out how high the noise levels are and identify any significant patterns.
- Use the data from the noise assessment to see if any simple changes can be made to reduce noise in the office. For example, if most people go for lunch at the same time and come back en masse, this could be distracting for anyone manning the phones at the time. You could try staggering lunch breaks to reduce this effect. If the photocopier, scanner or printer makes an ungodly racket, consider moving it further away from workstations. To prevent long discussions at workstations, organise regular meetings in another room.
- Consider sound proofing technology if you have the budget for it. For example, a sound pod is excellent way to prevent noise from leaking out of a meeting room. Absorbent wall panels stop sound from reverberating to create a more peaceful and comfortable working environment. Don’t forget to consider noise from outside: for example, if you are based next to a busy main road or near an airport, these will contribute greatly to the high levels of noise in the office.
- Raise awareness amongst colleagues to help control office noise. While the noise might not be ear-splitting, it is suggested that hearing other people talking in open plan offices can still reduce productivity by up to 66%. It can also elevate stress and even stimulate aggression in some cases.
- Use a wall-mounted noise activated warning sign such as the PulsarSafeEar. This sign, which is highly visible, illuminates every time the noise becomes too loud, and the best part is that you get to choose what is meant by ‘too loud’ by adjusting its settings.
If you would like more advice on controlling noise in the office, visit www.pulsarinstruments.com or call 01723 518011 to speak to an expert. Pulsar Instruments is a well-established and internationally recognised supplier of noise measuring instruments, including the PulsarSafeEar noise-activated warning sign.