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Office Design: 11 ways to reduce distractions

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Written by Emma Williams

Staying focused on your work means higher productivity. Many Australian workers are easily distracted and suffer from lowered productivity. Once you’re distracted, it can be hard to find your groove and find focus again. Distractions such as social media notifications, outdoor noises, and co-workers chatting can all be addressed to create a more productive workplace. Keep reading to learn about our top 11 tips for creating a distraction-free workplace.

Have a clutter-free desk

It’s hard to focus in a messy environment. Clutter can be incredibly distracting. A messy workplace will only cause confusion and disorder, making it very difficult to manage multiple tasks. This can cause stress and anxiety, lowering your productivity even more. To combat this, you can organize your papers and files in folders and store them in drawers or cabinets. Using electronic storage methods is another great option that saves you time and space.

Provide individualized work areas

Many modern-day working spaces are all about teamwork and open floor plan offices. However individual work spaces actually foster higher employee productivity. One of the reasons that open plan spaces are not the ideal working environment is the noise. Whether it’s the sound of computer keyboards clicking, talking on the phone, or opening and closing desk drawers, the noise can be very distracting. Why not offer small meeting rooms or designated areas for phone calls and meetings?

Put your phone away

No nifty office design can help out with phone-related distractions. Apps, messages and other notifications pop up constantly. Mobile phones can distract your employees for hours each day. Why not consider turning your phone off during office hours or putting it away so that you won’t hear it buzz? You can direct your family to the office phones for emergencies and inform them that you’re unavailable during office hours. Check your messages and notifications when you take a break.

Add more greenery

Decorating office spaces can be challenging, but one thing is for sure – you can never go wrong with plants. They create an inviting office space, and can also successfully absorb some distracting noise. An effective way to muffle ambient noise is to put potted trees  around the office. To add a more earthy element into your office, you can also consider outdoor settings for your office design. Introducing benches and covers overhead can create a quiet place to work. Your employees can ‘leave’ the office without sacrificing their productivity.

Invest in white noise machines

Have you ever thought about white noise machines? Some people use them to enhance their sleep, but they can also be put to good use in an office. Sound masking is always a good strategy in a noisy office. You can project low-level ambient sounds with white noise machines. Conversations will become more private, and all the distractions will be successfully minimised. White-noise machines can cover loud office sounds including conversation, printing and telephones ringing, which can cause high levels of stress for many employees.

Dampen the noise with furniture and accessories

According to several studies, noise can cause a 67% decrease in accuracy in employee’s work. Investing in noise-absorbing floor materials, blinds, and partitions can really help here. Using high-performance acoustic tiles in the ceiling can effectively absorb sound. Look for sound-absorbing blinds. For instance, cost-effective honeycomb blinds are perfect for large hard-floored areas or offices close to the bustling street. If you decide to integrate high-performance partitions, walls and windows, you can successfully block the noise. A rug can be a great way to reduce echo. If your budget allows, add a drop ceiling to absorb sound and create a pleasing modern design.

Install quiet retreats

While noise-reducing office design tactics can improve productivity and reduce distractions for some, others prefer silence. You should consider designing a closed office space. This will be a room in which a smaller group of people can spend time for a few hours every day. Some employees simply work better in a solitary working environment. Think about designating a silent space. By providing choices, employees are free to decide which area best suits their working needs. Your employees will appreciate the consideration shown.

Speak to noisy co-workers

Simply have a discussion with your chattiest employees. Let them know that if they have to talk, they can take it to the break room.

Use noise-canceling headphones

Listening to music during work can help you relax and de-stress. That is especially true for classical music, which promotes tranquillity and focus. The lack of lyrics allows you to focus completely on your work without distraction. To make sure that noise from your headphones doesn’t affect your coworkers, invest in noise-cancelling headphones. 

Prevent coworkers from chatting with you all day

Colleagues coming to your desk for a chat at all hours can really interrupt your workflow. This can lower your productivity and prevent you from knuckling down on tasks. You should be polite and kindly ask them to come by during your break instead. Ideally, you’ll catch up once all the work is done for the day, so that they can have your full attention and not let the newest gossip prevent you from being able to focus on your work for the rest of the day.

Designate a time for checking emails

Emails can be very distracting. They can come through at all hours of the day and night. Emails coming through during office hours can affect your workflow. That’s why we suggest you set aside an hour or two to go through emails and reply to them every day. 

Final thoughts

Staying focused all the time during your working hours is virtually impossible. However, you can minimize common distractions if you follow our top 11 tips. 

“The opinions expressed by BizWitty Contributors are their own, not those of BizCover and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Please read our full disclaimer."

About the author

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Emma Williams

Emma Williams is a writer based in Sydney, Australia. Blogging is her way of expressing her passion for reading and sharing thoughts with people around the web. A master's degree in business administration and a constant desire to develop Emma's knowledge provided provides her with a solid background for writing business-related articles.