Sound and the Open Office Design

WRITTEN BY rightsize


Remember that time when you ended up in an impromptu conversation with a coworker across the cube farm, and suddenly you’re getting glares from the peanut gallery as others start sliding on their headphones? Or had to take an early lunch because of a loud conversation taking place steps away from your desk? We’ve all been there. Offices can be incredibly distracting, especially when there are a few dozen people packed into a space in what we know as an open office design. But, by being considerate and aware of noise output, the open floor plan can be less frustrating.

The following tips might be obvious, but when it comes to office etiquette, they are essential.

Top 10 Etiquette Tips for Sound Management

Schedule calls in small meeting rooms - When you know you have a conference call that is going to require you to chat it up for an extended period of time, do yourself and your coworkers a solid and take the call in a small meeting room. It helps make sure that you aren’t disturbing others - and that your call isn’t interrupted by an impromptu game of nerf darts.

Use inside voices - Whether you’re on the phone or chatting with a cube-mate, be aware of the volume of your voice. It’s a lesson we all learned in grade school, so just take it down a notch.

Pretend like workstations have doors - In an open environment it’s easy to just walk over to someone else’s desk and start a conversation, not putting much thought into if that person is in the middle of solving the next big company problem. Instead of barging in, send them a quick email or an Instant Message to see if they have a minute to chat (and then meet them in a small conference room).

Don’t yell over your neighbors - People love to have conversations over cube walls. This is the famous offense that is oh-so tempting, but also completely avoidable. But instead of yelling over your neighbors, just walk around the desks to keep your conversation from traveling around the entire office.

Use a headset instead of speaker phone - Come on.

Don’t hold meetings in the middle of cube land - It’s easy to forget that your team isn’t the only one in the office, which makes it that much easier to get lost in conversations. If you’re going to debrief with your group on projects and strategy, do it in a private office or meeting room.

Close your office door - If you’re one of the few that’s blessed with a private office, please shut the door when on conference calls and hosting meetings.

Take advantage of the available privacy — everyone is already jealous of you, so that will keep them from straight disliking you.

Be aware of noise output - Pencil tapping, loud email notifications, smacking gum and food chomping are all recipes for death by coworker. But if you really want to make friends, leave your cell phone on your desk, with the volume up, while you go to a meeting.

Know when to go back to work - Sure there will be moments when half of your coworkers suddenly engage in a game of How-Many-Mini-Creamers-Can-The-Intern-Chug. Take a break from your computer screen, cheer from the participants, but then know when it’s time to get back to work.

Be forgiving - When you work in close quarters, holding a grudge doesn’t do much for anyone. Sure, it’s annoying when people are loud and disruptive at work. But now you can slap these rules on their desk and hope for a better result. And at least they will forgive you when it’s your turn to be loud.

About Rightsize

Rightsize Facility Performance, headquartered in Chicago, IL, is a nationwide office interiors and facilities services firm serving corporate clients in transition. Founded in 2004, Rightsize employs an industry leading “Design/Furnish” approach to ensure seamless workplace transitions and is a single source for interior design, furniture procurement, delivery and installation, asset disposition, facility decommissioning and ancillary project services.  Through its Office Furniture Center brand, which includes and a 200,000-square-foot showroom, Rightsize also provides a single source for quality workstations, desks, seating, filing, conference and reception furniture.

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