Sure, telecommuting gets rid of nearby water cooler chat piquing curiosity while you’re trying to focus and the annoying crunch of a colleague one desk over snacking on carrot sticks. But working from home presents its own set of noises. (Funny how noticeable the sound of the air conditioning turning on becomes when the house is otherwise quiet.)
Do your best to control background noise for your own sake and to create a professional environment when interacting with others by using these strategies:
Select a quiet area.
Put your home office in as quiet of a location as possible, preferably in a place where you can close the door. Setting up far away from where your son plays video games after school allows him to blast aliens to his heart’s content without mom constantly yelling to turn down the volume. Similarly, telecommuters living on busy streets often fare better working in a room that doesn’t face the hustle and bustle.
“The most effective way to minimize background noise is to choose a location for your office that is as isolated as possible from the noise,” says Marc Andre, founder of VitalDollar.com. “At our old house, my office was in the basement, and I had almost no issues with background noise from within the house (even with two young kids) or from the street and neighbors.”
Block out noise.
When the dog two doors down just won’t stop barking, consider measures other than fighting with an inconsiderate owner. Invest in a really good pair of noise-cancelling headphones for such times or even to wear often if they help with concentration.
Some telecommuters use music to cover up sounds. If that proves too distracting, try a white noise machine emitting soothing, neutral sounds such as falling raindrops or waves moving on a seashore.
Know that your toddler regularly throws a tantrum around 3:00 despite the babysitter’s best efforts? Disturbed for a half-hour every Tuesday morning when your neighbor’s lawn service does weekly maintenance? Use these periods for cleaning up and other non-taxing work, and save phone calls for a less disruptive time.
Speaking of conversations, ever worry that the sounds around your house will bother people on the other end? Start by doing what you can, such as closing windows or running the dishwasher at a different time.
Then, master the mute function on your phone. As Jordan Tarver, credit analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com, explains, “If you’re not talking, toggle on the mute button to help reduce the chance for background noise. When it’s your time to speak, you can unmute your microphone. However, once you’re done, don’t forget to mute it again.”
Go somewhere else.
When all else fails, remember that remote work doesn’t necessarily need to be done at your house. Grab a laptop, and use flexible arrangements to your advantage.
“On occasions when there has been construction next door—or in the case of when my neighbor fostered five dogs at once—I simply moved my workspace out of home temporarily,” says Rebecca Throop, head of marketing at Torchlight. “Libraries, coffee shops, and even town hall communal spaces are ideal.”
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