There’s an increasing number of freelancers and startups choosing coworking spaces over congested coffee shops and diners with free wifi. We’ve already discussed in a previous post about why this shift is occurring, but the simple reason is that these spaces promote collaboration and productivity. But coworking spaces have their own sets of challenges as well, one of which is noise. There’s the buzzing of phones, impromptu meetings, email dings, and people walking around. How does this promote productivity?
Believe it or not, some studies suggest that a certain level of noise can actually help you stay focused. When it’s too quiet, your mind naturally wanders out, leaving you unfocused to do the task at hand. In fact, complete silence can create an instinctual fear of danger (think Little Red Riding Hood alone in the woods) that inhibits productivity.
So having some form of noise - what that noise will be will differ from person to person - can help you stay focused on the task ahead. Even the hum of the air conditioning or some artificial rain sounds can be enough to help you maintain your workflow. What has worked for me are the basics: headphones and a curated playlist, with Sky Ferreira’s cover of Easy as a recent addition.
But auditory noise isn’t the only form of distraction. By design, you can see everything that goes on in a coworking space. If you’re a particularly nosy person, this might be a hard distraction to bypass. Personally, I struggle with this, but changing where in the office I sit was the simple solution. To minimize the amount of foot traffic I get distracted by, I set up shop in the corner of our office facing away from the door.
Yet, there is a time and a place for complete silence. When the brain is actively processing noise, even if you’re just listening to relaxing music, it doesn’t get an opportunity to just turn off for a bit. In fact, just 2 minutes of silence has shown to be more relaxing than listening to music. Another study suggests that silence actually helps the development of new brain cells in the hippocampus, improving your memory and learning abilities.
Once you’ve given your brain this chance to reset and recharge, it can increase creativity and your decision-making, helping you solve your day-to-day challenges. A simple way to incorporate this short time for silence is to block off a specific time during the day on your calendar where you can just switch off and utilize the private areas in coworking spaces. In fact, with the inclusion of more private rooms in coworking spaces that promote a quieter environment, installations such as the Jabbrrbox that allow people to escape workplace noise for a couple of minutes, have been appearing left and right in these spaces as a substitute.
Distractions will always exist regardless of whether you’re in a cubicle or an open plan office. The trick is to find the balance that works for you. Maybe that space at the corner of the room will have the best equilibrium for acoustics or even simply just keeping one side of your earphones on will have the same effect. It doesn’t matter if you’re the type who prefers complete silence or complementing background noise. Luckily, most coworking spaces today offer a range of areas and features for anyone looking to find that acoustic “sweet spot.” There are even some coworking spaces that offer cool and out of this world perks to their members! If you want to find the right coworking space, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll surely have you working in the perfect space (noisy or quiet).