In his book ‘Deep Work’, Cal Newport describes strategies for focused success in a distracted world. In his book, he talks about how he surveyed thousands of employees that had been moved from the old-fashioned cubicle to an open plan set-up.
He found that many people changed their behaviour due to feeling watched and this affected productivity. He also found that people found it more difficult to focus for long periods of time in an open plan environment, making deep work difficult if not impossible. Others complained that without a private place to speak, complaints were left unaddressed and relationships deteriorated.
He also discovered that companies were losing millions due to these distractions that affected everyone’s productivity. In a regular office, it becomes more difficult to have prolonged periods of focus. In a call-center the noise levels can become a serious health hazard by triggering high levels of stress.
In Cal Newport’s own words…
“To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction… Unless your talent and skills absolutely dwarf those of your competition, the deep workers among them will outproduce you.”
In a competitive world, Cal’s words do not go down lightly. So what can we do to keep our trendy open-plan offices (which probably cost a lot to create in the first place) to reduce noise distractions:
NOISE CANCELLATION HEADPHONES – A CHEAP OFFICE ACOUSTIC SOLUTION
Providing noise cancellation headphones and focus music for your employees can help them dive into deep work in an open plan environment diminishing distractions. However, this alone will not cancel enough noise for prolonged periods of time. Appointing specific noise controlled discussion areas can help localise noise allowing people at their desks to minimise the level of noise that reaches them.
OFFICE ACOUSTICS REDUCED USING SPECIAL FURNITURE
Private meeting booths and sound controlled seating can help you create noise controlled discussion areas that are a little removed from the main working areas, and are specifically designated as interaction areas. These areas can then be controlled by using sound-control furniture created on purpose to provide acoustic solutions for open-plan offices. The cumulus range offers many sofas and chairs as well as work-stations created for focused work.
CEILING AND WALL SOUND REDUCTION WITH ABSORPTION PANELS
Acoustic ceiling panels can provide an invisible, yet effective addition to any open plan. By using sound absorption panels on the ceiling you create a space where there are fewer voice echoes and make sure that sound doesn’t travel as far and sound as loud. Sound panels come in many shapes and forms. You can fit them directly into your ceilings to replace previous panelling or buy the hanging variety that also has lights inserted so that the panels don’t obscure the area. Check some out here.
SOUND ABSORPTION ACOUSTIC DESK PANELS
To further provide textiles and panels that absorb sound to reduce sound in your open plan, you can buy standalone panels that sit on a desk and block out sound or you can buy a desk that is designed to isolate from other employees that sit very closely.
Sound controlled seating allows you to maximise a large space without compromising privacy and focus. Cumulus sofas provide a good desk alternative such as this one:
MEETING BOOTHS FOR A QUIETER OFFICE
To make sure meetings and discussion are totally private and isolated from the environment you can opt for a meeting booth. These meeting booths are great because they save a lot of space. They provide a great alternative to closing off an area or partitioning it to create a meeting room. They come in various sizes and as long as employees are aware of the rules to use them they can make a great addition to a sound-insulated space. See the Meeting Booths Brochure.
If you’re looking to encourage your staff to become more productive, some or all of these suggestions can really help. Some will also need training as today’s distracted world does not encourage deep work. However, your programmers and your writers will thank you and your st, in general, will be less stressed once they feel they are in a position to have a few hours of deep work every day to take the edge off that deadline.
The biggest advantage of a sound controlled office with a good attitude towards deep work is that whilst increasing productivity you also decrease stress levels and create a happier working environment, which creates a tide that lifts all to better productivity levels.