How to tune out noise in your office

Friday - 11/12/2010, 4:29pm EST

Patrick Skerrett, Editor, Harvard Health Letter

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Are the people in your office too chatty, the is copier a little too close to your desk or the heater overhead blasting? How is all that noise affecting your productivity?

The "open design" of most offices could be causing more stress than it's relieving.

Some research indicates that office noise disrupts concentration, decreases productivity, and chips away at good health by increasing stress, writes Patrick Skerrett writes in the Harvard Business Review blog.

A noisy work environment can also impact your blood pressure or cardiovascular system, writes Skerrett, who is the editor of the Harvard Health Letter.

Skerrett told the DorobekINSIDER that organizations want their employees to interact, but he added, "You'd like to find a way to do it without distracting everyone else."

Skerrett shared the ABC rules to reduce office noise:

  • Absorb the noise
    Use insulation on ceilings and walls.
  • Block the noise
    Hang partitions over cubicles. You can also use panels, glass or other barriers.
  • Cover the noise
    Mask the sound by playing music or listening to the radio.

As much as people are "sound absorbers," they are also "sound generators."

Skerrett said, "We all have to be respectful of our coworkers."