So, I'm really struggling with distracting noise at work. Any and all conversations within about a 10m radius of my desk tumble into my ears and, worse, brain. I have no filter. It's an open plan office.
Recently we all moved desks which was supposed to help, but has made things worse. I'm within 5m of people who are often on the phone and loud when they are, and who all have people popping by their desks to "chat" which turns into a long conversation, often with the "guest" standing up.
I've started using Bose QC20 noise cancelling, plus white noise / music, but even my own music gets wearing after a few hours and I have to turn it off if *I* need to be on the phone. Then it gets quite awkward to manage my own voice that I can't hear naturally due to the noise cancellers & I'm constantly going on and off mute.
Of course lots of suggestions come along like "just book a room!" but the rooms are all different, different temperatures, different suites of old & knackered IT so you end up with a half-working network connection and worse monitor than the one on your desk just for the sake of getting away from your noisy neighbours. I'm trying to explain that going to a meeting room is bad for my effectiveness and, more importantly, my mental health. Plus you can't always get one, and it's not really efficient to spend 10 minutes getting set up in a room for a 15 minute call. OK that might be a bit of an excuse and the change of scene might do me good, but I feel annoyed that I can't work at my comfy desk.
I'm seeing if I can find a desk in a quieter area that I could propose, and I'm liaising with the office manager to send out a reminder email reminding people to be considerate in the open office space..............
Ah I feel your pain. I had the glorious combo of the shouty people in open-plan office plus the bloke next to me cracking his knuckles 100 times a day. I am so glad the knuckle cracker has now left....
I ended up asking the office manager if something could be said to the worst offender. She spends half of the day on the phone and speaks very loudly. She also has an accent that is like fingernails down a blackboard and is impossible to ignore or tune out. I am trying to code and half the time I can't hear myself think. Like you, I have no filter. I think that one is hard for NTs to understand. I have tried to explain it as the concept of "background noise" not existing in our brains..... so we hear everything and the brain tries to process it all, whether we like it or not. I was astounded when my best friend talked about "turning the audio input off". I had no idea until he said that that anyone could do such a thing.
Anyway, my contention was that if someone is going to join an hour long call at their desk, that's fine if they are perhaps going to throw in their tuppence-worth for 5-10 mins over the course of the meeting. If, however, they love the sound of their voice and are going to be talking for say 45 mins of the hour, THEY should have to go and get a room. Not you. That seems like basic common courtesy to me, you know, not disturbing your colleagues with your call??
Open plan offices are a blight. Can you perhaps see if there is an office manager or other manager who could send around an email reminding people to be polite and avoid disturbing their co-workers? Perhaps suggest that is the call / conversation is more than 15 mins long, it would be better to book a room?
It's always such a problem. I no longer work in an office, but the noise issue always follows me wherever I go - whether to work or to live.
One of the things that put me off in my first experience in the workplace of my new job was the fact that I'd be spending all day in quite a small room, with the radio on all the time, and tuned to a commercial station playing modern pop. The other staff would probably argue - they always have, wherever I've worked before - that it's for the service users. The same argument they always use when out in a vehicle. Always the same local station, too, repeating the same tunes and the same adverts all day. I can't stand music playing when I'm driving. But if I have another member of staff with me, the radio always goes on. If I raise any issue about it, I'm 'not considering the wishes of the service users.' From my experience, hardly any of the service users have cared one way or another.
Why must people constantly have noise? Maybe because it stops them from actually having to think.
I've always wondered, too, why people need to use loud voices when speaking on the phone. Modern phone mics are pretty sensitive devices. There's no need to shout. I suppose it's that thing of 'distance': if the person isn't standing there in front of you, you have to shout so that they can hear!
Hi moggsy & thanks. I must have turned off notifications by mistake as I've only just seen your reply. Yes I agree, and it's good to share experiences of having no filter. I so wish I had known about this all those years trying to explain to my family why I couldn't read a book with the TV on.
Hi Martian Tom - sorry for the late reply, I must have turned off notifications & I've only just seen your reply. Don't get me started about commercial radio stations :-). My pet hate is when people leave a radio on in a car and you can hear it from 50 feet away through the doors, and between the songs all you get is "Hehee gmuuurfle FM bumfle berpunk heheh", then the bass line to a track that your brain can't help but try to lock on to and follow :-(.
Same with people who have rubbish headphones and turn their music/TV programme right up whilst on the train. Listening to tssk tssk tssk all the way, or worse, the tinny vestiges of dialogue, which of course my stupid brain homes in on straight away, is a real pain!
It's very hard to explain to people who have never experienced it, isn't it? My best analogy for sensory overload is "try to imagine someone put you in a room with 27 huge TVs, turned up the volume, brightness and contrast on every one of them to the max, then put the remotes in a bag and left the room, locking the door behind them". That is pretty much my experience of public transport. I also don't think they realise how exhausting it is when you can't stop your brain from trying to attend to absolutely everything it encounters. Sometimes I am whacked before I even make it to work!
Likewise, most programmers' answer to a noisy office is headphones and play the radio or music ..... which I am sure works just fine if you have a brain that is wired to do "background noise". For me, not so much ....