How to deal with distractions in the workplace

The office can be a noisy place – the chatty colleagues, the loud printers, the ringing phones, and the one-sided telephone conversations are all things that you can hear on a daily basis in most workplaces.

It’s no surprise that most people find these things incredibly distracting; distracting in a way that hinders their work productivity. So how can you and your office go about dealing with these distractions?

Keep your door closed

If you have a door, keep it closed to lessen the sound coming into your office. Whilst it won’t completely block out the sound, closing your door will help you to concentrate on what’s in front of you, rather than what conversations between whichever colleagues are going on outside.

If you don’t have a door, consider ways of making it obvious that you’d like people to quieten down or that you want any distractions. This can be as simple as telling the co-workers next to you that you really need to concentrate on this piece of work, or making a ‘Do not disturb’-type sign for your cubicle to prevent impromptu discussions with your passers-by.


Another easy way to cancel out as much of the noisy office buzz as possible is to bring in your headphones. Plug them into your iPod, your phone or your computer and start listening to your music or the radio.

Not only will headphones help to block out surrounding sounds from the environment around you, but it also sends a sort of visual ‘do not disturb’ sign to others too.

There are certain types of music and sounds that can aid your concentration too. But what are they? Luckily for you, we answer that exact question with our post on the best sounds to help you concentrate. Say goodbye to any meaningless distractions!

Communal music

However, if your office allows you to listen to music with your headphones, then you are likely to run into the problem of the stereotypical office worker that plays his music too loud – somehow, without realising or damaging his ears.

Our suggestion to this is to consider having communal music – a radio or something similar that is on all day, playing music or sounds that aren’t too intrusive or distracting. Have it loud enough for people to hear, but quiet enough for people to drown out if necessary.

Be upfront

If it seems to be just you as an individual that’s having problems with distractions in the office, and headphones or communal music ideas don’t work for you, then you should speak up! Whether to one workmate that poses a particular problem to you or to someone that can do something about it, you should have your say.

You can discuss with your manager or boss the ways that the office could be improved, and make them aware of how poorly situated that printer room is – there’s no doubt they will listen when it comes to work productivity.

Designated spaces

One office improvement that could eliminate the loud conversations between employees catching up on what they did at the weekend is to have a communal room. Make this communal room somewhere the people in your office will want to hang out and chat for lunch breaks or breaks away from their computers.

Fit it out with chairs, sofas and things like a pool table or table football to encourage that they go there for their weekend updates and Netflix series catch ups rather than speaking about it at their desks for the whole office to hear.

The same goes for those looking for a totally silent place to work. We all know that there’s no chance that any shared office – big or small – will be absolutely silent at any point; there are too many people and too many jobs for that to work. However, having an area dedicated to those who need total silence could save you a few frustrated employees.

Soundproofed rooms

Like we said, there are certain times when you need total silence to work, and there are certain sounds that can’t be ignored – no matter how hard we try. It’s not ideal to be sitting in a meeting room with an important client when the background noise of loud colleagues and ringing phones starts to creep up. Or, when the shiver that runs down your spine when the printer in the room next door starts up. These things can prove a huge distraction, but there’s a resolution.

If you find your office suffers from these sorts of problems, it is worth considering soundproofing certain rooms – like the meeting rooms, the printer room or the louder communal room for example – to avoid any unnecessary disturbance. The meeting rooms will get the peace and quiet they need, and employees won’t be pulling out their hair as soon as page 1 of 200 pages starts printing.

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