Productivity problems? Your workspace could be the culprit

Rhonesha Byng loves her job, but a cubicle-free, open-office environment created problems.

"The distractions made it a little difficult for me to really focus in on getting stuff done," said Byng, a worker and entrepreneur.

The distractions she's talking about were primarily from noise. Not just the kind heard from fellow co-workers, but also the kind that can be seen.

It's called visual noise.

"Visual noise is, can be, a huge problem in offices and the reason being it does impact productivity," design strategist Leigh Stringer said.

Research even proves it. Experts who design office spaces said visual noise can be caused by things like bright walls, busy pictures, clutter on your coworkers' desks and even coworkers themselves.

"The biggest cause of visual noise is movement of people," Stringer said.

"I'm someone who's super nosy, so I'm always tempted to look at other people's screens and see what they're doing," Byng said.

There are solutions like more subtle wall color, targeted lighting, adding special privacy barriers like plants and turning desks away from busy corridors.

"We look at it in terms of what people need, how can we make it more productive," said Jason Saltzman, owner of "Alley" which is a shared workspace for consumers and entrepreneurs.

It's one of many places now giving workers choices.

"I can close the door, and I have access to a private area so that I can really get stuff done," Byng said.

"There's a balance between private offices and open space that really mixes the noise capability," Saltzman said.

Byng said it is all about balance. "The privacy and the community in the best way," she said.

And if you are bothered by all the noise you see from coworkers, some experts suggest some good old-fashioned headphones.
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