Office noise: put up or shut up

In my office, bants come thick and fast, but when other departments blare out video clips, I can’t help thinking wistfully of a headphones-only zone.

Share
Related Topics

In an open-plan office, etiquette (as well as teenage dreams of rock superstardom) withers on the vine. People eat highly scented soups and stir fries at their desks; one person’s filing system is the teetering pile of paper looming threateningly over their neighbour; coughs, sneezes and sniffles are shared and shared alike. If your workspace is really cramped, you might end up accidentally playing footsie with, or giving an unintentional kicking to, the person sitting at the desk opposite yours.

Accidental olfactory and physical abuse aside, noise has to be one of the biggest causes of dissent. It certainly is in i’s offices, as friendly debate and vital work chat between colleagues is what helps bring out a newspaper. So too, though, is quiet, the quiet time required by people stringing thoughts together into a coherent form for their readers to follow. Which is where headphones come in (Handel is my piped-in noise-blocker of choice). When push comes to shove, most of us can write stories in a maelstrom of shouting editors and ringing phones, but a bit of peace helps.

My husband used to complain about an office he once worked in. It was silent, because everyone was plugged into their ’phones. He found it sterile and unfriendly, a banter-free existence. In my office, bants come thick and fast, but when other departments blare out video clips from their computers to share with their deskmates, I can’t help thinking wistfully of a headphones-only zone.

But then I am a noise Nazi – I nagged a colleague I sat next to so much about the crunching, grinding sounds she made when constantly biting her nails that she gave up  the habit.

So, what is the best etiquette for office noise? To live and let live or to plug in and shut up? I don’t know, but I do know what not to do. When sound, however bloody annoying, blasts out from another desk, don’t shout at the top of your voice for the culprit to GET SOME BLOODY HEADPHONES. It’s noisy, it’s rude, and it makes you (OK, I’m talking about me) sound like someone with no sense of etiquette at all. Sorry about that, Lucy.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £40,000

£18000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Insurance Bro...

Recruitment Genius: Junior IT Support Technician

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Graduate Front End Developer

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides actionabl...

Guru Careers: Customer Support Advisor

Negotiable depending on experience, plus benefits: Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The Facebook 'legacy feature' for after your death is necessary - so let's not be squeamish about it

Joe Rivers
 

Here's what the Tories have promised to do, and what they're actually doing

Lee Williams
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

Latest on the Labour leadership contest
Froome seals second Tour de France victory

Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

The uses of sarcasm

'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

No vanity, but lots of flair

A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

In praise of foraging

How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food