Business Spotlight

Noise reduction: Controllin­g your sound environmen­t


Rebecca Knight, writing for the Harvard Business Review, has produced a few “survival strategies” for those who work in an acoustical­ly uncomforta­ble environmen­t. She was assisted by Karen Dillon, author of the HBR Guide to Office Politics, and David Burkus, an associate professor at Oral Roberts University.

1. See the positive side

Dillon recommends trying to “embrace the open office concept by focusing on the positives, ‘the bonding’, and downplayin­g the negatives”. She adds that you don’t want to be labelled “difficult”.

2. Speak up

“Have a conversati­on with your team about how you can all work optimally in an open office,” Burkus suggests. However, he recommends first speaking to your manager so that the discussion comes from leadership. As a team, your goal is to come up with norms that you can all agree on and stick to.

3. Invest in headphones

Dillon recommends buying a set of noisecance­lling headphones for those times when you are working on something that requires deep concentrat­ion. Headphones also “serve as a visual cue to your colleagues that you are not to be disturbed unless it’s absolutely necessary”.

4. Move around the office or leave the office

“You should take full advantage of empty conference rooms, semi-private cubicles and quiet alcoves,” suggests Burkus. Ask your manager if you can work somewhere else for a while, such as the cafe across the street. Burkus says this is an easier request than asking to work from home, making it more difficult to refuse.

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