White Noise Is All Right Noise

White noise in the workplace is the right noise in the workplace. The sound of creativity — the sound of comfort, for that matter — is white noise: it lets the mind wander into its own focused state. And the absence of sound is so much louder than sound itself.

You know what I’m talking about: You need to have a conversation with a client, but your taciturn workspace makes it feel like you’re gabbing during a national moment of silence? If I have to take a phone call at work, I don’t want to feel like I’m disrupting a funeral. Try some of these tips for white noise in the workplace.

  1. Rockbot: We’ve written about Rockbot several times, but the verdict never changes. Having social media and music in the workplace helps people get to know each other and feel more comfortable.
  2. Encourage discussion. Find ways to put people into teams of two or three to do their work. It will encourage collaboration and make some noise.
  3. Put a dog in the workplace: If you can get away with it, an animal in the workplace will add white noise and make everyone more relaxed.
  4. Wear bells: Seriously. In India, Ankle bells are a common sight and sound. They’re beautiful, cultural, and it’s fun to hear people walking.

To put it to the test, we asked 11 people what they thought about the noise in our workspaces: four of them were Baby Boomers, six of them were Generation Xers, and one of them was an Echo Boomer. All of them were Americans except for two, who were English. Six felt like females. Five felt like males. Everyone liked the volume level. In fact, two baby boomers grumbled about their offices elsewhere because they were so quiet. One said of her regular office, “it feels like working in a waiting room at the doctor’s office,” which I particularly enjoyed.

A study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, as reported on by 99u.com, demonstrates that — over and over — people who work with a moderate level of ambient noise (70 decibles, or so) are running circles around those without noise.

To read the entire article (and we strongly recommend it), click here.

For our original blog post on the subject, click here.


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