Small Business Tip: How to Minimize Noise in an Open Floor Plan

Reducing noise in an open office
The Ruby Receptionists studio in Portland, OR

Open floor plans are a great way to increase productivity and communication while encouraging a cohesive team. Plus, they just look cool.

Ruby® Receptionists has always favored an open layout, but when we expanded last year to accommodate our growing size, we knew that the open floor plan could have its challenges. As a receptionist service that prides itself on its remote receptionists sounding like they’re answering phones right in their clients’ offices, noise control is definitely something we keep a close eye on. Managing noise level is a challenge many businesses face, so we’d like to offer some tips that might help you control noise in your office, no matter what your industry.

open office noise reduction
Glass panels keep friendly faces near and noise at bay

As we’ve mentioned before, one of Ruby’s core values is to create community — and an open floor plan is the key to helping us foster that sense of closeness and teamwork. It’s true that our virtual receptionists could technically work from home, but then we wouldn’t get to see each other face-to-face and feel that team spirit every day! To boost Ruby camaraderie even more, we’ve opted to have four-foot cubicle walls that feature glass panels on top. The height is perfect to block sound between each virtual receptionist, but the glass panel allows each receptionist to feel less isolated. It maintains the aesthetic flow of our open floor plan, and our virtual receptionists love it, because they can send notes of support to each other through the glass.

Staying productive in a noisy office
The Plantronics SupraPlus Monaural Noise Canceling Headset

Another way to control noise — and probably some of the best advice I can offer anyone whose job includes telephone answering — is to invest in a noise-canceling headset. This style of headset reduces up to 75% of background noise! We’ve chosen to use Plantronics headsets because they have an excellent reputation, and we’ve found them to have the best sound quality and capability for noise reduction. The microphone is also flexible, so we can bend it to fit our faces. By simply making sure the mic is in the right place, it helps cut background noise. We order our headsets through T3E, because they offer excellent customer service — and it’s always nice to support a local company.

One more tip from our phone answering pros: speak as if you are 6 inches away from your listener — because, technically, you are! If he or she is having trouble hearing you, be kind to your neighbor and simply wrap your hand around the mic to reduce any residual background noise and focus your voice onto the mic.

Do you have any tips for keeping the noise level down in an open office? Feel free to post your suggestions in the comment section below!

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