There can’t be many office workers out there who have yet to experience symptoms of silent office syndrome. You know, like when it takes you three solid hours to quietly crunch your way through a packet of crisps.
Of course, everybody needs a certain level of peace and quiet in order to concentrate, but some office workers feel there comes a point when silence is no longer golden. It is, in fact, entirely possible for a lack of noise to become far more distracting than audible sound.
Can quiet offices be bad for communication?
In a room full of people, it’s likely that at least one will feel uncomfortable piping up with a personal or professional problem when everyone is within earshot.
The extroverts in your workforce probably won’t mind, but pin-drop silence can intimidate quieter employees. Some people don’t like to feel like the spotlight is on them.
Even less-shy colleagues may be reluctant to interrupt a library-like atmosphere.
In a super quiet space, staff are more likely to communicate only when necessary. Even then, it might only be via email in order to avoid having to speak out loud.
This could be for confidence or confidentiality, but either way, silence can make staff feel very exposed. Which doesn’t leave much space for collaboration or the exchange of ideas.
A significant dip in productivity levels
A silent office environment can be creatively stifling and incredibly unstimulating. As a result, staff start slumping in their seats, watching the clock, and losing interest in the tasks at hand.
This one’s a bit of a no-brainer but putting on some background music can lighten the atmosphere. Just make sure everybody is happy with the vibe and volume although often, this can feel like mission impossible.
Creating designated places where people can make noise
If the nature of your business calls for complete quiet during working hours, provide breakout spaces where staff can go to relax, unwind, and make as much noise as they want (within reason, of course).
Letting the great outdoors in
Sometimes, the only bit of background noise you need is the birds tweeting in the trees, cars going past the window or just the humdrum of living. Crack a window and let the noises of nature in.
Consider sound conditioning technology
Specialist technology has been developed to emit a constant stream of sound which intuitively reacts to the noise levels in the room. This is often a white noise effect and can even be undetectable to the human ear but the ideal level of distraction from silence.
Dedicating time to brainstorming sessions
In order to avoid staff feeling stifled or unable to share their ideas, schedule specific times and spaces entirely dedicated to doing just that.
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