Shush, you are disturbing me!


Lunchboxes are piled up with stacks of books. Are you concerned that your colleagues are annoyed with how untidy your workplace is? There is something else though that is much worse; your noise level. You make too much noise!

Working in an open plan office has its issues. Separated only by a flimsy room divider, people are brought closer together and find out almost everything about their colleagues whether they want to or not. There is just no way of avoiding it. Most people are familiar with this situation; just when you sit down to write that all important document someone at the other end of the office turns the radio up loud or makes a very noisy sales phone call. There are times when one feels like being a part of the British comedy series, The Office. In an interesting survey, the University of Sydney has identified the most disruptive elements in an open plan office. Thirty per cent of respondents stated that the noise made by colleagues was the disruption that was the hardest to deal with. But worst of all was actually the lack of privacy: Never being left alone, not being able to concentrate fully and everyone can hear everything you say. A total of 60% stated that this was the greatest problem of all.
One point worth noting in the survey is that it also reveals that staff sitting in office cubicles are those that are least happy with their workplace. Those sitting out in the open are actually more satisfied, and this can be explained by the fact that they can see their colleagues and understand where the disturbing noise is coming from. It offers to some extent a small yet important illusion of being in control. Some other sources of irritationrevealed by the survey:

  • 28% think that the temperature in the office is wrong.
  • 18% think the workplace is too small.
  • 15% are annoyed by the colours used in the office.