There are definitely both pros and cons to having a loud and chatty office. If people are talking that means your employees are communicating well with their team and are more likely to have groundbreaking ideas! However a loud office can be distracting and how much is the conversation just about work? You don’t want to start laying down the law and forcing your staff to follow library rules’ but there are ways you can reduce noise in the office without making your employees unhappy. Here is how you can reduce noise pollution and create a quieter working environment.
As many modern offices are open plan, they can get very noisy when everyone starts to join in on the conversation. A 2013 study by the University of Sydney discovered that many employees struggled with noise inside the office. Communication between your employees should be encouraged but it also needs to be controlled to avoid damaging work delivery and unsettling other employees.
When you think about decreasing noise pollution in your office, surprisingly, many people think this will be a major expense. However there are various ways you can reduce noise in the office for FREE. All it takes is some clever rearranging.
1) Keep teams together
Are your teams sat together or do they have to project their voice to be heard? If it’s the latter then you need to consider moving your teams closer together. Your teams should be able to have a quiet conversation about their work without disrupting the people around them.
In an open office space you can put desks together for each team. So each team has an area of the work space. This stops teams talking over each other.
2) Move team meetings to the conference room
Team leaders want to have regular updates with their teams but if they know they’re going to have a long one hour meeting with the entire team, they should relocate to a conference or meeting room. A meeting can get very loud when discussions start and will inevitably be distracting to other people nearby. Encourage your employees to use the room if they’re having a large meeting or if they think it will last longer than 15 minutes.
Some employees are nervous of using a conference room because they don’t want to go in when the room is booked. Set up on a shared online Excel sheet so managers can see when the room is available and book a slot for when they need it.
3) Offer a quiet working area
If you don’t want to segregate your quieter employees from your chatty staff members, then you can have a separate quiet working area. Invite your employees to move into this area when they don’t want to get distracted. Working in a very loud environment can be difficult for some staff members if they need some quiet time to complete a pressing task. Having a quiet room available for your employees can keep people happy and offer them some flexibility on where they work.
4) Have a separate lunch room
Encourage your employees to have their lunch in another area instead of their desks. When eating at your desk, you’re more likely to talk to your colleagues and usually there are still people working around you. By having your employees eat their lunch in a different area, they can talk and not have to worry about being too loud.
5) Introduce some plants into the office
Having some green nature in your office has many benefits. Plants can improve productivity, morale, health, air quality and decrease stress. Plants around the office can also help reduce noise levels by deflecting and absorbing sounds. Getting plants for the office might not be free but it’s far cheaper than soundproofing your entire office!
6) Take mobile calls outside
Your employees will likely have to answer the phone to talk to customers but you can introduce a general rule about using mobile phones. Having a chinwag to a loved one on your mobile can be a nuisance to people working around you. Encourage your employees to step outside the office or go in the stairwell.
Bonus Tip: White noise machine
Whilst this is not free, it’s an important machine to mention. A white noise machine produces random binaural sounds to stop noise travelling and decrease/eliminate noise pollution. It’s often used as a sleep aid to help people sleep because the noises are soothing and reduce the chances of disrupted sleep. The audible frequencies the machine releases works to stop loud sounds leaving the immediate area. In a work space, a white noise office machine can reduce the volume of conversations so people working nearby won’t get easily distracted. This might be a useful investment for your office.
Apparently these machines can stop people eavesdropping on conversations. Might be useful near the water cooler!
There are many ways you can reduce noise in the office. You can get the floors carpeted and get your entire office floor plan redesigned but these can get expensive. Try our free suggestions and see if they help reduce the levels of noise.
Elm Workspace has created work spaces for businesses that are designed to help reduce noise in the office. Have a look at our portfolio to see some of the big names we’ve worked with.