Acoustic screens: when the office chatter gets too much

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Ah, the joy of open-plan offices. It’s great to have that workplace communication: the impromptu discussion across the desks about a project or even the morning catch-up with workmates on last night’s TV… But, equally, if you need to ‘switch off’ and focus, then your ability to concentrate can be seriously affected by office chatter – and hiding behind your desk-top screen won’t help.

Did you know that:

• office workers lose 86 minutes a day due to noise and distractions

• and 31% leave the office to get work finished

Source: Workplace Futures Team of Steelcase

It is also estimated that, once distracted, it takes 23 minutes to return to the ‘flow’ state – where you are back in deep concentration and focused on the task at hand.

So what’s the answer?

Acoustic Screens

Acoustic screens act as great room dividers but have the added advantage of being filled with noise-reducing material. This can really help cut the background noise, particularly if your desk is near a walkway or noisy printer or photocopier.

Diverse office spaces

Diversity is the key in any office environment and professional space planning is about much more than just getting the right office furniture in place. It is about designing for both private and collaborative working practices: making the best use of open-plan areas, as well as considering meeting rooms, break-out and reception areas.

Flexible working

This certainly won’t be an option for everyone, but working from home or opting for staggered hours can improve productivity, and give you that much-needed ‘noise-free’ time to really focus.

[Note: As an employee you are not automatically entitled to staggered hours – you must have worked 26 weeks or more for your employer and your employer still has the right to refuse your request if it is considered unviable for business reasons.]

So, all in all, you may not be able to stop the digital chatter and distractions from your inbox, but there are ways you can make a discernible difference to the human chatter around you – other than hiding behind your desk-top screen!

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