The Woes of Office Noise
My husband is a PhD candidate at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Before we moved to Scotland, it was easy to romanticize the experience- sightseeing, bumming around castles, counting sheep on the grassy hillsides, and writing up a speedy dissertation (called a thesis here). And while we have done a lot of traipsing around the UK and our fair share of sheep-counting, the thesis side of things has not been quite as expected. One of the main surprises has been the actual work space….or lack thereof. Not too shocking is that no one has his or her own office space. As such, at least 2, if not 3 or 4, students share one working area. Fortunately, many of these office dwellers are friends and share topics, though not all. However, these shared offices are all in the same building, which ends up adding up to quite a few students. From office to office, you have men and women, young and, um, older, not mention lots of different temperaments.
Dealing with Noise
All that is to say that noise has become quite a problem in my husband’s building. Sometimes it’s the productive workers frustrated by the talkative, less focused workers. Other times, it’s the street noise as people like me walk by with our children and are too lazy to actually call our spouses and therefore just shout up to their windows. And, last but not least, there are the grouchy students who are irritated by group lunches or coffee breaks in the common area that is situated to their work areas. All in all, the noise adds up, and it is threatening to destroy relationships and kill deadlines and goals.
What’s the solution? Contrary to what administration seems to believe, sending out a group email telling people they can’t eat together in the common area is not the solution. Why not try a less ridiculous option, such as a sound machine? Individuals could use a desktop sound machine when noise is a problem and turn it off when it’s not. That way personal relationships could be saved, and people could still get work done, too. Win-win.
If office noise is a problem for you and your studies, try a sound machine for better focus.