Finding it hard to hear yourself think at work? Noise in the workplace has always been a problem, but it’s become more of an issue with the trend toward open-space work environments. While open office spaces, whether in your small business office or in a co-working environment, can benefit collaboration; they can be hard on the ears.

A study by the University of California Berkeley Center for the Built Environment found that noise and lack of speech privacy are the biggest complaints among office workers, writes the Harvard Business Review in “Noise at the Office: How to Cope.” With the adoption of open office spaces, it’s becoming harder for office workers to escape the noise from coworkers, HBR points out. And white noise, which offered some relief from coworker conversations, has been reduced as a result of better design in heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

You can’t get escape the noise

Taking work out of the office fails to eliminate the problem. With today’s mobile devices and apps, you can work anywhere. But if you think the office is noisy, you’ll get little relief in a coffee shop or airport lounge. While many workers work all or part of the week from home, unless you have a sound proof home office, noise from neighbors, the dog barking, or construction crews down the street still can be a distraction.

Even if your own small business office doesn’t pose a noise problem, you can run into one working on site at a customer or client. There you have no control over your surroundings. This was a problem for Pariveda Solutions, an IT company in Dallas, whose consultants work on site during project implementations. Each site poses different challenges for consultants in terms of privacy and noise interference when making calls or participating in conference calls.

Headsets can help cut out noise

For Pariveda Solutions consultants, Plantronics headsets were the answer to eliminating background noise and providing privacy wherever they work. They are not alone. Quoted in the New York Times article on “From Cubicles, Cry for Quiet Pierces Office Buzz,” one software entrepreneur described headphones “as the new wall” in open space work environments.

Headsets also can help cancel out background noise by enabling your team to listen to their own preferred sounds — white noise or music – as long as it’s not too distracting. (When you are trying to concentrate, it’s best to listen to soft sounding music or very calming sounds.)

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.

When it comes to keeping down the noise, headsets can be a sound solution for your small business team.