BizQuiz: Volume down, efficiency up – How to thrive in a noisy office

It’s rare you can get through even one hour of work without hearing sounds of colleague chatter, ringing phones or loud printers. So how can you stay on track?

It takes a toll. Noise can greatly affect your productivity and stress levels, says workplace psychologist Jude Burke. That’s why it’s good to know how to keep your rhythm amidst all the noise.

Answer True or False to see if you know the best ways to stay productive in a loud office:

  1. When it comes to your level of productivity, the most disruptive sound of all is other people’s conversations.
  2. If you want to get more done, using earplugs is always more effective than listening to music.
  3. Want others to take the hint their noises are disrupting you? It’s best to send subtle signals, like placing earphones in or clearing your throat.


  1. True. Research from The Sound Agency found nothing hinders your focus more than the sound of other people talking around you. When this happens, try popping in headphones or earplugs.
  2. False. When choosing between silence and music to drown out noise, consider how “immersive” your task is. For repetitive tasks, music can increase output. But if you’re reading or retaining new info, silence is likely better.
  3. False. It’s best to confront the issue head-on, Burke says. But if you feel uncomfortable asking someone to pipe down, see if it’d be possible talk about the noise level and come up with solutions together in your next meeting.