Some people can sleep through a thunderstorm, but for most, noise makes it hard to concentrate. In the office, it can be difficult to find relief from phones ringing, people talking to each other and on the phone – sometimes with the speaker on –  and music coming from computers or from a range of mobile devices. Even if you work at home, you need to contend with dogs barking or leaf blowers. And a coffee shop may be a pleasant change of pace to work, but it’s hardly a library.

In “Noise in the Office Workplace,” Lorraine Maxwell, associate professor in Cornell University’s Department of Design and Environmental Analysis, writes, “…studies indicate that noise is the most frequent complaint among office workers.” It’s not only concentration and in turn productivity that takes a hit when the noise level goes up; your health can suffer as well. Dr. Maxwell lists a whole range of effects of noise on individuals including increased illness, stress and fatigue and even interference with speech. In addition to the effects on your health, too much noise results in lower job satisfaction and lower morale.

Sound solutions in the office

Today’s trend toward open-space work environments has made noise an even greater workplace issue. However, there are space management solutions that can provide your small business team sitting out in the open or in cubes with a quiet and private environment when they need it. As Dr. Maxwell suggests, one solution is to provide acoustically private spaces for phone calls or face-to-face meetings and small individual offices that someone could use part of the day.

Constructing small private booths for their sales and account reps to have more privacy when making calls was part of the planning when SpiceWorks, the social business network for IT, moved from its original office spaces to a larger building to accommodate growth. SpiceWorks also provided sales and account reps with Plantronics noise-canceling wireless headsets to use with their desk phones. When there’s too much noise going on, reps can move away from the desk in their cube to one of several floating desks to conduct a call using their headset. (See: SpiceWorks adds a dash of PLT to spice things up with employees, IT and customers.)

Headsets help control the environment

In situations in and out of the office, when you have little control over your environment, a headset can help to ensure audio clarity for you and your listeners. Among its many audio devices are two just announced Plantronics UC headsets designed to reduce noise distractions and help your team focus on work. The new offerings, featuring both a corded and Bluetooth headsets, include:

Blackwire 725: Plantronics first UC product with Active Noise Canceling technology (ANC) provides a corded option at a very affordable price for office workers who need to hear and be heard. The Blackwire 725 is ideal for managing PC calls and enjoying music and multimedia with dynamic hi-fi sound. Also, with the combination of wideband audio, Digital Signal Processing and a noise canceling microphone, incoming calls and your voice are both crystal clear.

Voyager Edge UC: New wearing style for mobile UC users who need to be heard and want to use their Bluetooth® enabled communications devices (laptop, smartphone or tablet) together. The solution includes a small Bluetooth USB dongle that provides seamless wideband audio to your laptop.  The latest addition to the Voyager line features a slim, sophisticated design that fits quickly and comfortably in your ear and comes with its own portable charging case. It boasts signature Plantronics audio technology that eliminates disruptive background noise and includes intuitive, responsive features that keep you moving by automatically answering calls as you place it on your ear.

There are a number of ways to deal with noise in your small business. Anyone of them that makes employees more satisfied and productive will be a sound investment.

Suggested additional reading: Plantronics Smarter Working; Welcome to the next age of work.