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How to stay sane in a loud office

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Open plan office environments are more popular than ever. Without walls and cubicles to get in the way, creativity and collaboration are made effortless and business culture can thrive, which is why employers opt for a modern, open-plan layout when designing their offices.

But the increase in volume that is common in open spaces isn’t helping our productivity. From barks of laughter, loud chewers and out-of-tune renditions of your former favourite songs, offices can quickly become a place where focus is the forgotten concept.

Diamond Interiors recently conducted a survey that found that 52% of office workers are distracted by the noise in their office.

The importance of minimising noise

There are naturally going to be times when noise is inevitable in a working environment – we’re only human.

However, controlling the volume in these instances is crucial to maintaining a healthy workplace, as less than 50% of office workers can work in loud environments without being distracted. So, what effect does this have on our day-to-day work?

There are a number of problems that can affect workers when the office becomes too noisy.

1. Reduced productivity

Continual distractions in the office can seriously hinder productivity, as research shows that the average office worker is distracted every 11 minutes and then takes 23 minutes to return to a state where they feel deeply engaged in their work. In fact, simply being exposed to one nearby conversation can make an employee’s productivity plummet by up to 66%.

2. Low morale

When you’re working to a deadline and trying to stay in the zone, the last thing you need is to be trapped in between two conversations or hear cackling laughter from the other side of the room.

Not only does this stop productivity in its tracks, but it also has a negative effect on employee relationships and morale.

3. Health risks

Noise pollution in the workplace can cause a number of detrimental effects to employee health and wellbeing. Studies show that even intermittent exposure to loud noises can cause lead to elevated blood pressure.

You may think that your office isn’t loud enough to worry about such things, but it’s not just about volume. Prolonged exposure to moderate noise levels can even lead to hearing damage and loss in extreme cases.

How to stay sane

When working in an open plan office, it may seem as though there’s nothing you can do to cope with the daily drone. However, you don’t need to redesign your whole building; starting small is the best way to drown out the noise and reclaim your sanity.

1. Use your headphones

If you’re working on a project that doesn’t require any communication with colleagues, the easiest way to deal with noise in the office is to block it out with your headphones. Obviously, this isn’t always an appropriate solution – you can’t exactly sit in the middle of a board meeting with your earbuds in – but, it’s ideal for when you’re at your desk and need a couple of hours to focus.

Be cautious, though: blasting loud music in your ears to try and overpower the ambient noise will have the reverse effect, making it difficult to focus and potentially damaging your hearing.

Noise-cancelling headphones offer a happy middle ground. They block out the noises that bother you without having to pump even louder sounds into your ears.

2. Take a walk

When it’s difficult to try and control the noise level in situations like these, the best solution is to remove yourself from the situation.

Enjoy a short walk, give your eyes a rest from your screen and get a breath of fresh air. A small break away from the hustle and bustle will help you take a step back and recharge your batteries. When you’re back at your desk, you’ll find yourself less irritable and all the oxygen in your brain will improve your concentration.

3. Have ‘the talk’

When you’re working in close quarters, you might need to speak to your colleagues about controlling their noise levels, but nobody wants to create an awkward situation for themselves or their colleagues. However, if you’re tactful, you’ll be able to masterfully defuse the situation instead of being labelled the office buzzkill.

Sometimes workplace noise levels can really get out of hand, but usually, people don’t realise how loud they’re being. By gently mentioning the noise level, you can ask if they wouldn’t mind keeping the volume low without offending anyone or causing any drama. Everyone just needs a nudge every once in a while.

4. Use whatever space is available

When working in an open-plan environment, you may not have a dedicated quiet work area where you can seclude yourself. An alternative to this is to make use of other areas in the business that may be less noisy than at your desk.

Jump in a meeting room while it’s free or ask if you can borrow a colleague’s office so you can get your head down on a project. There may even be a coffee shop nearby where you can escape from the chaos for an hour or two to focus on your work.

What can employers do?

If you approach your employer and ask them to redesign the whole office because you’re finding it a bit loud, you’ll be laughed out of their office.

But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that can be done to help quell the noise, as there are unobtrusive ways to customise a workspace.

Nick Pollitt, Managing Director of office design specialists Diamond Interiors, believes that a little ingenuity can go a long way in office acoustics. “Keeping the volume down in offices can be tricky, as it’s predominantly down to each individual to be aware of their actions. This doesn’t mean however that there’s nothing employers can do to help reduce the levels of noise pollution.

“More and more workspaces are incorporating quiet booths into their office design, giving their employees a place to escape from the noise without removing themselves from the office entirely.

“In fact, if you’re clever with your design, there are a number of acoustic solutions that can be implemented into your current work environment without needing a full office overhaul. Absorbing sounds with acoustic panelling is a great place to start, as they can be installed in walls, floors and ceilings; giving you options for whatever space you have available.”


5 must-have personality traits that drive productivity

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Cultivating a positive workplace environment is not something achieved by a select few – everyone brings something of their own to the table. Forgive the cliché, but the modern office space is such a hive of activity that it is almost impossible for it to be led by a single presence. Everyone pitches in.

And, if your business is to reap the sweet benefits of growth, increased revenue and industry recognition then the employer must embrace this. Personalities are what make a successful business tick – for better or worse.

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9 Ways to Encourage Your Staff to Exercise (and Save Your Business Money in the Long Run!)

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Across a diverse range of businesses, there is one recurring problem for office workers in the UK. With long periods spent sitting down, sedentary lifestyles are putting employees’ health at risk.

Never has there been such an urgent need for employee exercise programs – but just how much exercise are we talking, here?

According to physical activity guidelines from the NHS, adults aged 19-64 require at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week to stay healthy, as well as a minimum of two day’s strength training per week.

This is more than doable, even if you are stuck in an office all day.
With some simple steps and a little encouragement, employers can easily promote an hour of daily exercise for staff. After all, it’s in the business’ best interests to ensure that all employees are fit and healthy, given that long-term sickness absences cost UK companies an eye-watering £4.17 billion EVERY YEAR!

Promoting exercise and a healthy lifestyle is a win-win situation for both sides. We can reduce the risks of sedentary living for employees, whilst saving businesses billions and improving the economy in the process.

Here’s how you can do it…

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Clerkenwell Design Week

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Last year 34,973 visitors attended London’s most important commercial design festival: The Clerkenwell Design Week. The Clerkenwell Design Week is the home to more creative businesses and architects to be found anywhere else, it is at the forefront of renovation and creativity. With each year it surpasses the previous year with even more talented architects and designers creating true masterpieces to behold.

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Is Sit-Stand The Future Of Desking?

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There is evidence of implementations dating back over a century, but height-adjustable sit-stand desks as we now know them have been available from Scandinavian manufacturers for about 20 years. Sit-Stand desks are becoming more popular, both in work and office environments as well as in a household.

Here are some examples of how sit-stand desks can benefit you!

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Why are desk dividers essential in your office?

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In the office design world open plan offices and collaborative spaces are at the peak of their popularity. However, all of this open space does come with some drawbacks. Sometimes privacy is what is needed to get the most out of your employees and in this blog, we explain the importance of having desk dividers (desk screens) and why your organisation can gratefully benefit from having them. Our desk dividers are available in a wide range of colours, sizes and designs. They make a great addition to any office space, read more below to find out why!

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Asian Furniture Design

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Asian furniture designers are now taking the world by storm. Originally it was the Western brands that took up most of the spot light, we are happy to announce that the tides are changing and the Asian companies are ‘breaking the wheel’ by inventing some truly outstanding furniture designs that would only be seen in an alternate/futuristic movie.

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The future of your furniture

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The future of your furniture depends on what you do today!

In today’s economic climate, many companies are opting to up-cycle their existing furniture. We have obtained many contracts resulting in the resizing of desks for a variety of companies. It has become apparent that it makes sense to re-size and upcycle office furniture at a fraction of the cost to buying new.

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Is ‘Micro’ the Future of Urban Homes and Offices?

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As cities become more congested and built up, space becomes more valuable. And so does flexibility. If homes become smarter and more space saving (or multipurpose) using products like SmartSlab, they should also integrate smart reconfigurable interior walls and flexible equipment. In a state of the art city pad of the future (in just 10 years’ time) interior walls, furniture and equipment will be reconfigured on command to allow flexibility and optimum use of space.

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