I’ve been a bit inward focused the last few days. Maybe that’s why Cognitive Daily’s post about sounds in the office was so enjoyable. (The full title: Office noise: Are your homicidal thoughts about your noisy officemate justified?)
Dave Munger examines various studies dealing with noise in the workplace. Most of them looked at industrial settings. That makes sense; I spent a summer working at Chrysler’s Warren Stamping plant, and it was surprising, when I got off work, how quiet Mound Road sounded.
“…in general, when people can’t control the noise in their environment, they are less willing to persist on a difficult task.”
The post deals mostly with the study of clerical workers coping with random noise — typing, voices, doors opening and closing. Not all that surprisingly, people who couldn’t control much of the noise around them have higher stress levels and lower productivity.
(Since lately I’m working from my home office, the noise level is pretty much up to me, except on lawn-mowing day, so that can’t be my excuse.)
Almost as interesting to read is the post are the comments that follow it, including this gem:
Interesting choice of words in the title. Have y’all spent quality time in a cube farm? ;) If I had to go back, my choice of ‘natural masking’ device would be a gas-powered leafblower, or perhaps a chainsaw.
I enjoyed the following trip in the time machine.Â Notice how Remington Typewriter centers its pitch on how much noise the secretary is making.Â You know, she’s the one doing work.
“Stop and listen for a minute. How noisy is your office and who’s making all the noise? Chances are the greatest noise source of all is your secretary. Her clattering typewriter not only makes a lot of noise, but forces the whole level of office conversation to rise above it contributing more to the general office din. How does this noise affect you and everyone else in your offices…”
I’ve worked on assignment more than once at locations that used PA systems to contact individual employees. At the pharmaceutical plant, perhaps that made sense — not everyone had a cell phone, but everyone could dial a paging number and ask Phil Mackenzie to dial 3456. But at the office of a computer services company, with thirty or forty people working in cubicles, why have a voice from heaven every ten minutes, “Colleen Burton, line 3… Colleen Burton, line 3?”
Vintage Remington ad and caption by anniebee / Anne Bowerman.