Offices. A strange notion, really, when you think about it. A bunch of people sitting together in a confined space, often multiple levels up, with little to no fresh air and often limited natural light. People sitting in cubicles, clacking away on keyboards, clicking mouses, talking on phones and to each other.

Studies have shown that ambient noise in an office, as opposed to noises of a sporadic nature like I’ve just described, is good for productivity and creativity. Perhaps because constant noise is a more common thing for city dwellers; pure silence can often truly stun or set people off course. I like how David Burkus refers to it as the “Goldilocks” zone for creatives who like just the right amount of noise, but not too much (although let’s not forget that Goldilocks was a tad shameless about sampling all of the options available!).

Organizations will go to great lengths to create that perfect balance of ambient noise in an office, as reflected in the bevy of options available that enable it to be created in a virtual sense. Coffitivity is an app that provides a continuous loop of coffee shop noise: conversations, brewing and serving coffee. Clever. It’s even possible to use small speakers throughout the office to broadcast ‘electronic white noise,’ a purely non-descript sound that mimics, well, nothing in particular. Just enough to mask the other erratic sounds that might distract you in the office. Or you could try an age old suggestion proposed by ‘new’ research – you could try listening to the sounds of nature.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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