January 11, 2011 / 2:49 PM / 8 years ago

Management Tip of the Day: Ways to cope with office noise

Model Abigail Rosenthal wears a "muttering" hat, designed by Kate Hartman as an exploration of what it would be like to extricate the noise of the thought process and put it into physical form, during a fashion exhibition at SIGGRAPH (Special Interest Group for Computer GRAPHics) 2007 in San Diego, California August 6, 2007. REUTERS/Mike Blake

BOSTON (Reuters) - Open work spaces are all the rage, and a good way to encourage collaboration, but what do you do about the irritating noise? Harvard Business Review has some ideas.

The Management Tip of the Day offers quick, practical management tips and ideas from Harvard Business Review and HBR.org (www.hbr.org). Any opinions expressed are not endorsed by Reuters.

“Open work spaces are all the rage. Leave office doors open! Lower the cubicle walls! These are great ways to encourage collaboration and transparency, but they can also lead to noisy offices. Here are three ways to drown out the racket and stay focused:

1. Put on a headset. Music may be too distracting, but try talk radio turned low. The babble of voices can make a good sound absorber. Or try one of the many free, web-based white-noise generators.

2. Get a white-noise machine. They’re mainly marketed as sleep aids, but you can use them in the office, too. Place one next to your desk or at the open door to your office.

3. Keep it down. You also generate noise that may bother others. Remember that the next time you pick up the phone or have a desk-side conversation.”

-Today’s management tip was adapted from “Noise at the Office: How to Cope” by Patrick J. Skerrett.

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