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Getting the Right Level of Noise

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 29 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Noise Colds Phone Calls Mobiles

You may think that noise levels in the workplace seems a strange topic to devote an entire advice article to because it is one of those things, like support stockings or parking permits, that is of no consequence in our daily lives until such times as they are required.

So, think of this article as your insurance for the day that you need it, because on that day you be glad it's here as you will be so frustrated and irritated that you cannot bear to listen for a moment longer.

To be fair, the various problems with noise in the workplace do not always leap up and bite us on a particular day. They may be more likely to slowly build up until there comes a day when you have simply had enough.

Noise issues in the workplace come in various guises. You may be reading this as a conscientious person who is keen to maintain a pleasant work place or as a person at their wits end with a particular colleague who obviously has no regard for anyone but themselves.

If you are the former, then let's discuss a few pointers to ensure that you uphold your position and hopefully encourage others to follow suit.

  • Do not have an annoying or 'amusing' ringtone - no one thinks it is at all funny and just the sound of the phone is enough to get up people's noses. Just a plain ring or beep will suffice; make sure it is on a quiet setting, too
  • When you go into a meeting or out for lunch, do not leave your mobile on your desk, just ripe for ringing over and over with a voicemail and driving your colleagues to distraction
  • When you take a personal call, assess if it is a good time to take it - can you be overheard, ought you to be doing something else or will the person sitting next to you be wigging in?
  • If you have a hacking cough or runny nose, do not keep barking and snivelling - make sure you have enough tissues and Lemsips to keep you going each day and go to the bathroom for particularly noisy blows. Of course, if it is really bad, stay at home.
  • When you are speaking to a colleague or client on the phone or face to face in the office, do not shout or talk unnecessarily loudly - there is no need for everyone to hear your conversation. Go to a meeting room if necessary.

What about if you are the quiet one and it is your colleague that has obviously not read the list above and is consistently stepping over the mark of acceptable levels of noise? Try some of these suggestions -

  • If a colleague's mobile rings in a meeting, make sure to say 'please take that outside' before they answer it - ideally make a 'no mobiles' policy clear on pre-meeting emails, or have it as a company rule
  • If your colleague gossips loudly on the phone, you may like to mention a juicy titbit that you overheard, this will either embarrass them or allow you to say you would rather not know such things
  • If you are in the pleasant situation of listening to a work mate cough and snivel all day, then depending on how friendly you are with them, either pass them a comedy wodge of tissue or ask if they wouldn't mind going to the bathroom as you are finding it hard to concentrate.

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I have a workmate in the office who has had a hacking cough for 3 months, it's driving me bonkers but no-one wants to upset him. He is also a heavy smoker. Unfortunately, the management at my place are a bit spineless so looks like I will have to put up with this indefinitely!
Vialli - 25-Nov-11 @ 4:35 PM
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