Three Quick (and Relatively Cheap) Ways to Reduce Office Noise.

Image © Rakesh Vaghela

Office life may thrive or die based on the ambient noise level in the workplace. And we’re not talking about the occasional irritating one-way conversation from Doris in Accounting.

“The single most powerful determinant of individual performance, team performance, and job satisfaction is the ability to do, for all job types, large amounts of distraction-free work… with noise being the greatest bulk of distractions,” says Michael Brill, president of Bosti Associates.

So we can’t blame you if you’re constantly searching for office noise reduction techniques to turn the volume down at work. Keep your office life productive with one or more of these methods guaranteed to cut down on your office noise problem, without cutting too deeply into your budget either:

Office plants. Indoor foliage does more than make your desk look pretty – office plants can reduce office noise by breaking up or diverting sound waves. A study conducted at South Bank University showed that office plants can help to reduce noise levels by as much as 5 decibels.

For the best effect, arrange the plants along walls and corners to catch the sound waves before they bounce from the walls and back into the room! Pro tip: the best plants to deploy as office noise-busters are the Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) and the Benjamin’s Fig (Ficus benjamina).

Two more noise-reducing techniques for the office, after the jump.  (read more)

Secret Santa Gift Ideas for your Office Cubicle.

Your co-worker’s office cubicle looks like it’s about due for some sprucing up. Here are some gift ideas you can use to help him jazz up his space (or yours):

Cubicle life can be lonesome, so how about printing a cubicle companion? Printing? You heard me. Head on over to Cubeecraft where artist Chris Beaumont provides over two hundred free designs that can be printed and origami’d into “Cubees” depicting favorite pop culture icons, from the well-known (Superman) to the obscure (Jailbot from Superjail!). The cubical design is linear cool, with none of ‘em looking out of place in a Herman Miller cubicle.

Each Cubee is ranked on a difficulty scale that gives you an idea how long it’ll take you to put it together – ideally in time for the office party. Print out thirty, and craft ‘em for the rest of the office; just have an excuse handy when the office manager asks about your massive printing expenses.        read more..

Pranks, Parties, and Other Fun Cubicle Activities.

How do you put a constantly-complaining colleague in his place? Simple: make his complaints of “I’m being buried alive in my work!” a reality, if only a little: Your next project: how to bury your whiney colleague’s cubicle. All in good fun, of course.

Frivolous? Hell no, you need these stunts to make life on the cubicle farm more bearable. Play is an integral part of a productive workforce – managers ought to tolerate a little prankery like the demonstration above.

Or an office party – with the holidays coming up, even businesses weakened by the economy ought to have an opportunity to celebrate, boosting morale and building teamwork.

Carin Warner’s workforce will be celebrating more humbly this year – “We’re going to scale back and still have fun together,” said Warner, proprietor of the Boston-based public relations firm Warner Communication, is based in Boston. Potluck party on the beach replaces weekend getaways for Warner, but no matter – the party is the important thing.

Teamwork will be reinforced by involving employees in the planning process – “The very coming together over a non-work task is in itself delightful, delicious and engaging,” said employee retention consultant Beverly Kaye.