The rise of open plan offices has been prevalent and even though they bring us out of the era of cubicles and create a more social environment there is one major problem: noise. Open offices are beneficial for a lot of factors as they bring in more natural light, look more appealing to prospective employees coming for interviews and other potential visitors, and create a more social environment and space for employees to work; however, the noise created within that space will travel further in an open plan office.
Noise in the office can be caused by a number of aspects such as the phone ringing, colleagues chatting amongst each other, and the notorious typing sound. All of these put together can become very distracting for employees which will result in a drop in productivity. You can not expect employees to sit there in silence, so here’s a few ideas on how to prevent office noise harming productivity.
Speak To Your Employees
Every employee is different and will find working in some conditions easier than others. Some employees will prefer working with a radio on whereas others dread the thought of hearing any form of music whilst they are trying to concentrate.
Speaking to your employees individually, or conducting a survey will allow you to understand how everyone feels about noise within the office. Here you can ask them if there is anything in particular they want fixing about the noise. It could be simply just moving the printer into another room. You will also get to know how many employees like to work in silence, which could outline that something drastic needs to happen if a lot of employees are not happy with the noise levels.
Plan Your Office Space
The best way to keep up productivity within the workplace is to make sure everyone is happy with their workspace. As everyone is different and like mentioned above some prefer to work with a radio being on whereas others will prefer to work in silence. The best way to keep everyone happy is to keep these two types of people separated.
Place people who prefer to listen to the radio in one area and place the others who prefer to work in quiet conditions in another area. Keeping these two types of people within the office will reduce any frustration and stress amongst colleagues.
The key is to keep talking to your employees and make any necessary changes they feel would help them with their workloads.
Alternatively, if it’s impossible to separate these two types as you have one large office space where noise travels, provide your employees with spaces they can go to achieve peace and quiet.
Provide Quiet Spaces
Providing a quiet room will ensure that employees who prefer working in silence can take themselves away from the hustle and bustle of the main office to a space where they can relax and really get their head down.
A quiet space can provide an employee a comfortable place to work where they will not get distracted by certain aspects within the main office floor. A quiet room could be a conference room or other office space, fill it with comfortable furniture and let employees work in an environment where they will be more productive and produce good quality work.
Some offices can be too quiet for people if you do not have a radio playing. Providing headphones gives employees the chance to listen freely to music, an audio book, calming sounds and more, without distracting anyone within the office.
Headphones can be useful to the two types of employees as mentioned above, due to the fact that the employees who enjoy listening to music can do that without affecting the silent types around them.
For hygiene purposes, we advise you buy a set of headphones for each employee as sharing headphones isn’t a safe option.
Use Desk Screens
One of the few benefits to having cubicles within offices was that they contained noise, therefore, causing less distractions for other employees around them. However, cubicles took up a lot of room and meant employees couldn’t socialise amongst themselves. They also looked old fashioned and not very appealing on the eye.
Desk screens are a good alternative to cubicles as they absorb noise but due to their height and structure don’t take up any floor space, and still create a social environment. Their design is simple and elegant therefore creates a stylish alternative to the office cubicle.
Create A Semi Open Plan Office Layout
As discussed open plan offices have become the layout of choice within workplaces across the country, however, as studies have shown that they are liable to reduce productivity. A solution to this open-plan would be to create a semi open plan office.
To achieve a semi-open plan you could use office partitions and tall plants to create separate spaces within the office. These could be used as quiet spaces, meeting areas and breakout rooms. They will break up the open plan office and ensure noise doesn’t travel as much throughout the workplace.
Similar to desk screens, office partitions absorb noise and create cost efficient separate spaces where employees can go to work silently or group discussions can take place. They are a cheaper option when it comes to creating separate rooms that building walls. Due to their lightweight build, they can be taken down and put back up in a different place easily. They are an ideal quick alternative to putting up walls but have the same effect by reducing noise within the office.
Noise can be a constant issue within the workplace and trying to keep every employee happy and productive can be difficult. By considering the options above it will show your employees that you care about their wellbeing and will try anything to ensure they are happy. Keeping your employees happy will boost productivity.
If you are interested in finding out more about how to prevent office noise harming productivity in the workplace and how to overcome this issue, download our free eZine below.