Is silence golden?

Posted on 24th July 2019

I had a thought recently (just the one, I don’t like to overwork the grey matter), and that was, whether an office worked better silently or was hustle and bustle a better idea? This idea didn’t just pop in to my head, it was one of those days in our office where everybody seemed to have to take a call at the same time, the same day the estate management decided that the hedges needed cutting, so there was the constant drone of hedge trimmers from outside, then just to top it all off the ice cream van arrived… I know that was a good and bad thing, but it was exceptionally loud.  So, with all this going on, my level of concentration was impeded to say the least.

The problem we have, is that everybody has a different level of tolerance to noise.  I’m sure they won’t mind me saying, but my family’s level is low.  We chose to live in quiet surroundings, we don’t tend to have a lot of noise in the house and there is an absolute ban on talking through films!  Other people seem to feel more comfortable with chatter, the sound of people outside and even the noise of a town or city around them.  Both are of course absolutely fine, until those people work together in an open office.

Peoples roles often demand differing levels of noise, a sales or creative team may be a lot louder than the accounts or legal team.  I once worked as part of a buying team, it was noisy, we were all on the phone throughout the day, chatting to suppliers and the phones rang constantly.  The issue was the company initially put us next to the accounts department, you can imagine the clash. Fortunately, the issue was resolved after a shift around, but for some time there was a high level of irritation and the team broke down a little.

There are lots of opinions, and even studies on this, and opinions are varied.  So, here are a few points to consider:

  • Is what you do confidential, sensitive or private? If so, maybe enclosed areas or partitions would be a good idea.  It allows for the conversation to feel private and secure.
  • Do people need quiet time/areas to concentrate? Is there a breakout area, or an office people can use for those times?  Are people able to work from home should they need it?
  • Do you have an environment where people have to be on the phone, such as a sales or PR department? Often these environments thrive on the ‘buzz’, it can be intimidating making a cold call in a silent room.  Consider this, even a radio or TV in the office can help give some level of noise to help make it less daunting.
  • What is the team dynamic? Often people bounce off each other, they support and work as a team, a silent or enclosed area can stop this flow of communication.

Consider different departments and whether they have similar needs?  Talk to the team and work with them, you won’t please everyone, but make sure it works for the business and show that you are trying to support your team.

As with all team support and issues, if you ever need our help you can contact us on 01536 215240 or email Info@gatewayhr.com  We can work through team issues using a variety of different methods from team building to mediation, but for now shhh, pass the popcorn, the film is about to start.

Maria Parsons Character
Written by:
Maria Parsons
Business Manager
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