There are two types of noise related stress in the workplace. The first is a level of ambient noise that can actually be considered a threat to worker health and safety, the kind that often occurs in warehouses, processing facilities, and workplaces near aircraft, trucks or other large machinery. This type of noise is a serious problem that you’ll need to address (if you haven’t already) with the help of your operations, HR and legal teams.
But there’s another type of noise pollution as well—one that’s not as harmful to your employees, but just as harmful to your bottom line. This type can be considered “distraction noise” and is associated with the bustle and constant conversations that take place in open-concept workspaces. If your employees are becoming distracted and scatted as a result of the sounds in the air around them, keep these considerations in mind.
1. Don’t put the burden of a solution on your employees.
Don’t foist the problem off on your workers by asking them to whisper their conversations into the phone or speak and move only during defined break periods. If your workplace is generally noisy, take responsibility. Change the layout and décor so a conversation held at normal volume won’t overwhelm a cubicle neighbor. Consider adding soundproof walls, carpeting the floor, and putting up more privacy shields.
2 Generate talk-friendly spaces.
Can your employees freely move in and out of conference rooms if they wish to have private chats? Or are these rooms rigidly scheduled? Can employees talk openly in break areas without being overheard at a work desk positioned two feet away? Do you sometimes find employees huddling in the hallway beside the elevator in order to talk on their cell phones? If so, create more spaces that can accommodate these activities.
3. Don’t crowd your workers.
Invest in space. If you can’t fit your current employees comfortably in your current workspace and they’re climbing on top of each other, smelling each other’s tuna breath, and spending the entire day involuntarily eavesdropping, then it’s time for a bigger location. In the meantime, make sure the employees with the highest need for privacy and security are granted priority access to quiet office space.
For more on how to make both large and small changes that can improve your productivity and protect your employees from distraction, contact the staffing experts at PSU.