NEIGHBOR NOISE? HELP EMPLOYEES TUNE IT OUT
Overhearing the play-by-play details of a co-worker’s bad date or recent doctor’s visit is the by-product of cozy workstation life. No matter how much one enjoys rock ’n’ roll or country music, hearing a co-worker sing along off-key can drive one to distraction. Instead of passing out personal headphones so employees can drown out unwanted noise, consider updating or redesigning workstations to minimize disruption.
PANELS HELP ABSORB SOUND
When selecting new workstations, choose one made with acoustic panels to absorb sound and control reverberation. These panels have a sound-reducing inner core and are covered with fabric. Avoid panels primarily composed of glass or hard surfaces. While these materials offer a streamlined appearance, they reflect sound and can increase noise.
SCREENS PROVIDE PRIVACY
Existing workstations also can be modified with doors and high overpanels to reduce noise and provide privacy. Overpanels at least 66 inches high are most effective in helping to contain sound. Want the flexibility of privacy while still fostering a collaborative environment? Consider easy-to-move, freestanding privacy screens to expand or fold to the side as needed.
Despite these efforts, no workstation will be entirely soundproof. Professional courtesy also plays a role in controlling workstation noise levels. An internal educational campaign can remind co-workers to lower their voice during phone conversations and restrict casual talk near co-workers’ desks.
Keep in mind that some job functions require constant day-to-day communication among co-workers, and, therefore, noise-reducing barriers and furnishings may not always be welcome. Be sure to assess departments’ needs and employees’ attitudes on the subject before making a move to reduce office noise.