Workplace: Sounds of Work

Consider your workplace. What are the sounds of work that accompany your day?  Elevator music and Muzak overhead are some of the sounds of work. Customers talking, requesting, demanding, and giving thanks are sounds in many workplaces. Equipment humming, vehicles running, and machinery in operation are sounds of work too.

Quiet. Some sounds of work include silence. The pauses in conversation, the between-shift moments of quiet, and the sounds of silence when equipment shuts down or the power goes out are all a part of our workdays too. The subtle sounds of work include nature, near-quiet sounds, and frequencies most of us do not hear.

Years ago, I was on a December deadline that required complete concentration in a cubicle-world of offices. The holiday music overhead was not helping my concentration or work completion. No conference room space was available for project work. This product-critical deadline happened in the1990s, before today’s ubiquitous headphone/earbud world of distraction and noise-blocking tools. Wanting to complete my work well, I called facility services and asked that the speaker over my desk be quieted for a few weeks. Oh boy. The“humbug” name-calling began. And, the ability to control only one speaker on the floor did not exist. The solution: “work from home so that you can control the sounds of your work environment until this project is finalized.” And work from home I did, several days a week, until the project was proofed and sent to the printer.

Do the sounds of work during your day help you accomplish work? Or stand in your way? Consider what you can do to shape the sounds that support your productivity and joy. Consider whether the sounds and conversations you contribute to each workday are helping or hindering others from accomplishing their work.

Consider your playlist for work. Review your most productive times and the sounds that accompanied them. What, in a perfect work world,would be the sounds of your workplace?

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