Quiet and Loud Offices: What's the Deal?
If you are reading this (If so, we salute for expressing interest in our Smunch blogs!), you may currently have a job that is proving stressful, much too stressful, or maybe not even challenging in the slightest. We know, none of these scenarios are ideal. However, have you considered the significance of the working environment around you? You may be too consumed by your objectives to notice, or maybe even away with the fairies in social media, but in this blog post, we lay out the pros and cons between too silent and too noisy office spaces: And ultimately, how to find the balance.
A quiet working atmosphere: What is it actually good for?
- No distractions
Ah yes, this scenario may be all too familiar if you have literally ever worked in an office. It goes without saying that a silent environment is also a convenient environment to get your head down and smash out excel sheet after excel sheet. If you have a seemingly never ending treadmill of monkey work in front of you that needs sorting, like an eternal game of tetris, this ambience at least allows you to focus all your effort with limited to distractions.
- Deep Work
Furthermore, there is evidence to support the importance of “deep work” for heart and mind as well as meeting the needs of an employer. This is a take which emphasizes strong time management, 100% focus and a complete lack of distraction. This style of work does indeed sound intense, yes. However, by compressing all of your productivity and efforts into a certain time span, you will more often than not find that your general output reaches close to its true potential. Moreover, having worked efficiently for many hours is more likely to give you a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, compared to that of having only watched Cat Fail videos all day.
Despite this, we must also point out that this method of working is only truly suited to complex and longer tasks. Monkey work such as box checking and tasks which you can complete whilst constantly checking social media don’t really fit the mould here.
A quiet working atmosphere: what are the cons?
- A biological need to socialize
We may at times want our office to remain quiet to continue to stay focussed on the task at hand. However, there are certain factors about a quiet environment that cannot be understated. The first factor can be demonstrated with a small biology recap: We as humans are social beings - we have physically evolved this way and this is what has kept us here since our evolutionary beginnings. We as humans therefore physically need to socialize with one another.
- Bad for our general wellbeing over time
Strong social ties to family and friends are critical for helping to keep mental and physical problems at bay. Studies even suggest that individuals with a healthy physical routine but a poor social routine actually have a shorter lifespan to those with lifestyles the other way around.
You may now be thinking, “so what, I am here to work and not to make friends” and pass this all off as psychology waffle - it is the workplace after all, so why be so obsessive? However, when you consider that we spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at work, it is vital that we maintain healthy and communicative relationships with our colleagues and that they become our friends. There is not a lot less motivating than returning from a holiday with an array of stories to tell - only to be shut down by your colleagues’ half-hearted, “oh..hi” as the deafening silence returns into your life.
- Can lead to isolation and a lack of cohesion
A quiet atmosphere at work with regular deafening silences that last hours on end can more often than not lead to isolationism in the workplace - despite being surrounded by your fellow colleagues. Unfortunately, this also presents problems for the employer themselves. The importance of a strong team cohesion and interaction must not be undervalued as we will point out in a moment.
There is little denying however that a lack of cohesion and a feeling of togetherness within a team is more likely to resign the room to containing only individuals, who are in turn more likely to only work on their own accounts. Therefore in our opinion, it makes little sense to trudge all the way to the office to immerse yourself in a vibrancy and vibe of a funeral atmosphere all day - companies may as well just implement mandatory home-office.
A bustling atmosphere: What benefits result from this?
- Unity amongst employees
As stated passionately above, the benefits of a lively atmosphere within the workplace are not only beneficial for the fabric of what it means to be a human - but more importantly, the needs of an employer. First of all, a bustling and lively atmosphere in the workspace is great for staff morale. Employees want to feel part of something, whether that something is to strive to fulfill a vision within a team or enjoy healthy and satisfying relationships at work - within a team. The fundamental concept here is that of togetherness. For example, we enjoy eating lunch together instead of having a sandwich, crisps and an apple alone at our desk.
In stark contrast to a room of individuals half-heartedly working on their own accounts, it is far more beneficial for all parties that colleagues act as a unit. The more we communicate with one another, the stronger we solidify the stone mould of our bridges, over which general communication passes with less resistance. Through this, vital information between departments is carried more easily as well as general comments, constructive criticism and praise. This strong well-oiled machine is a model of how communication in the office should work.
- Health benefits
Moreover, being socially connected with one another is fundamental for our wellbeing as humans. Some general health benefits include:
- Keeping anxiety and depression at bay
- Helping you to let off steam and relieve any stresses
- Stronger immune system to fend off sickness
- Less likely to experience bore-outs and burnouts
- Allow you to live a healthier and a more fulfilling life
We could easily spend hours laying out the health benefits of having social connections within the workplace. These reasons alone point to factors that hinder future knock-on effects that a sick stressed out workforce can cause.
A bustling atmosphere: What are the potential drawbacks?
- Can be irritating and distracting
It goes without saying that a too bustling working environment can lead to distraction. There is little more off-putting than trying to get through your pressing task at hand - just when your colleagues decide to feast upon someone’s homemade cake and credit its delicious flavors via the medium of occasional screaming. If you join in Project: Cake, socializing with your colleagues is music to your ears. However, there is usually something pressing to be done. In this regular scenario, the socializing creates a nails down a chalkboard effect and can be generally very distracting.
- Bad for productivity
If we are distracted at work, we find it difficult to dedicate our whole focus to a task. In addition, it can prove frustrating to have to barricade ourselves in behind our screens and headphones and have to mentally shield ourselves from the constant barrage of incoming missiles in the form of slack messages, social media and general chit-chat. A key factor to true productivity, as mentioned prior, is to stay focussed and try to block out external inputs. If there is a constant carnival going on all around you, true productivity cannot flourish.
Finding the balance between too much silence and too much noise
We spend an average of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in the office. This is a big chunk of our lives - it is therefore vital to make the most of it. Of course it is important to be able to knuckle down and concentrate fully at times. However, if an office environment can successfully dedicate a certain amount of time, or even a dedicated space, to achieve strong productivity - whilst ensuring that there is sufficient communication and get-togethers throughout the day, a working space can achieve its true potential.