Quick-Wins for a Quieter Workplace
It doesn’t take a bulldozer or sledgehammer to construct a quiet zone within an existing office.
Consider temporarily or indefinitely setting aside a conference room that is away from break rooms, shared printers, and other highly-trafficked areas. Create a quiet zone!
A team meeting can explore the issue and achieve consensus on at least a few guidelines. The team might identify where conversations should be whispered and cell phone ringers switched off. Someone might make a simple, readable sign that politely asks for those courtesies.
It seems there may be a mix of extrovert and introvert in every one of us!
The trend in workspace design in the late 20th and early 21st centuries favored extroverted behavior. Private offices became a luxury. Office doors came off, then walls became partitions, and then desks became partitioned tables.
Workers may not have evolved as quickly as their office environments. Some longed for more “alone time” and less networking.
In a recent innovation, balanced offices, space for quiet concentration is designated but left open to everyone. The collaboration continues along the partitioned tables or among cubicles, but the individuals seeking “heads-down” time can retreat to a quieter space.
Split it up!
Office furniture and supply vendors now offer a range of room dividers that do not require setting up an entire warren of cubicles or constructing office walls.
Some contemporary office dividers look like the phone booths of the pre-cellphone era. Of those, some were freestanding boxes with folding doors. Others were just sound-muffling partitions.
Both types of booth design are now offered as private temporary workspaces that contain network ports and power outlets rather than phone jacks. Employees can bring their notebook computers away from shared spaces and retreat to a quieter place.