How to block out office noise: 5 Steps to cancel office noise

This article talks about how best to block office noise. There are many noises that can affect your concentration at work.


The first and most obvious ones are your co-workers and just general people in the office.


The extent to which co-workers can be a distraction often depends on the size of the office itself.


Having transitioned from a small office with 7 employees and then to working at a large corporation with 30 000 employees.


I know the differences that the size of an office can play in how the team functions and the extent to which you are able to concentrate.


Smaller offices tend to affect concentration a little more. This is because you can hear everyone’s grunts and groans, and if your boss gives you a scolding then its plain for all to see.


One of the issues I found in my smaller office was that I could even hear top management laughing in the boardroom because it was so close.


On the other hand in larger offices people can go to meeting rooms and discuss things in peace.


In smaller office spaces things like the sounds of birds and car horns can be annoying , as windows are often not sound proof.


In the case of larger office spaces the windows are generally sound proof and the outside world can not interfere.


Even worse, in smaller offices , the sounds of construction work can sometimes be a disturbance.


Some other noises that one can encounter at the office are the sound of the air conditioner. The low level buzz of the air conditioner can be quite disturbing.


In this article , I will attempt to explore different ways and methods that can be used by both employers and employees to block out office noise.


Without further ado , here are some of the things that you as a company and as an employee can do to block out noise and limit interruptions and distractions in the office.


1. Follow some noise friendly protocol.


Above I have mentioned birds, construction workers and traffic as being reasons for noise in the office.


But there are some things that we as co workers and bosses can do to be a little more considerate and ensure a more quiet work environment.


Put your phone on silent


With this I would add, if you must take a phone call at the office then make sure that you take your phone calls outside.


I think it is also important that you put your phone on vibrate or mute so that your ring tones do not disturb the people in the organisation.


You should not be answering your phone during working hours unless it is an emergency.


Listen to music with headphones on.


They say music soothes the soul. But beyond that certain music can help you get into the zone. Some times co worker chatter can really be disruptive.


I find that slow to mid tempo always does the job for me. For maximum impact it is advised that you get yourself a pair of  Noise Cancelling headphones.


I personally recommend the larger over the ear headphones, but of course this could also depend on the company culture.


Sometimes large headphones can give the impression that you are anti social, which has its own issues. Never the less see if it would be acceptable to the office and team and then invest in some Over ear Noise Cancelling headphones


Noise Cancelling headphones cancel out incoming noise by producing a sound wave which cancels the incoming one. This is done through noise cancelling microphones.


Noise cancelling technology has become really advanced , isolating you from the outside world and still allowing you to enjoy your music at the right level of quality.


Headphones can also indicate that you are deep in concentration and would prefer not to be disturbed.


Some of the best noise cancelling headphones are made by  Sony and Bose. 


As good as the the headphones produced by the 2 makers above are they can be a little pricey.


Fortunately you can get noise cancelling headphones at various price levels. Check out the following link for different types of Noise Cancelling Headphones.  


In addition to this ensure that you have closed back headphones , so that the sound from the headphones does not leak and end up disturbing your colleagues.


2. Take Conference calls in a separate room


This one is a little tough, as it depends on where the office phones are located.


If the office is so small that it is completely open plan then you may not have any choice.


However where possible , try and take calls in another room so that you do not disturb your colleges, and try and encourage a company culture where people make this a habit.


 3. Set aside certain rooms or spaces as quiet rooms


This can be very useful for  important projects that need to get done or when there is a looming deadline and employees need to be in a quiet room to get work done faster.


Often these types of rooms can help with  improving productivity.


If there are empty rooms that are not being used at your organisation, then put your hand up and suggest that they be used as quiet rooms


Provide areas where employees can make a noise


So called “pause areas are common in many work places. These are places where employees can congregate and “chill”.


These are preferable for lunchtime congregation and when employees just need to chat privately.


In many instances employees may need to engage in robust discussions and collaborate on projects. This is where “Loud” spaces can be very useful.


It is actually not a bad idea to include rooms made for taking phone calls or game rooms, it will send a message to employees that the main office area is meant to be a quiet place for working.


3. Silence your mind


This may seem like strange thing to say. But the reason or at least one of the reasons that we struggle to concentrate is that we are over stimulated.


Whether it be social media, the news or talking colleges, our brains are hard wired to get off tasks and focus on the latest bit of news or entertainment.


We need to find a way to resist the urge to talk to co workers all the time or look at our phones for that matter.


Activities such as mediation and Yoga can help tremendously with keeping your mind focused on the present moment.


Take 10 minutes a day in a quiet space , close your eyes and just watch your thoughts and be in silence.


Over time you will develop the habit f being in silence and your mind will not be easily distracted.


Another great way to silence the mind is to get some rest. Overworking means that your mind is always on and can not shut down. For this purpose I recommend that you read up on some of the best ways to trigger melatonin.


4. Communicate with your manger


If you are finding that the office is too noisy for your liking, best thing to do would be to tell your manager and make a plan about it.


Sometimes you do not want to be the party pooper and do not want to be the one to tell people that they must keep quiet.


In that case just communicate and see what HR or management can do about it.


5. Get to the office early


If you can get in 2 hours before everyone arrives, imagine how much that could improve your productivity.


One of the best ways to do this is to get to the office before anyone else. This way you will face absolutely no distractions and can power work until your colleges arrive.


One other strategy that works particularly well is to do a little more in the evenings when the office is empty.


I personally like to head off to the gym at around 4 pm and then come back to the office at 7 and work for an hour and a half.


You could also work a few hours on a Saturday morning to be slightly ahead of the crowd.


One of the best ways to accomplish this is to stay as close to the office as possible, to ensure that your journey is smooth and do not have to deal with traffic.

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