Different types of work demand different environments, surely. But if there was one quality that benefits any work space, what would it be? Good, positive energy? Serious teamwork tools? A friendly manager? Decent coffee? Perhaps the quiet? Let’s explore the possible implications of working in a quiet office.
Absolutely no need to convince anyone of the fact that it is much easier to focus on a task in a quiet room, rather than in a loud one. We’re not built to produce high quality work when jammed in a room with a bunch of speaking people — which is one of the main reasons why the huge open space offices are quickly leaving the scene, getting replaced with flexible office arrangements.
There is a common conviction, that it is only the guilty and unsure of what they’re doing, that need to talk constantly, as if working off their need to prove that what they do makes sense and brings value to the overall process. It makes sense then, that the quiet people simply get on with the work, confident of what they’re trying to achieve.
Being quiet promotes staying calm and composed. These, in turn, should result with faster work, higher work quality and far less stress, which has a productive value of its own. There is always the odd employee, who thrives in a stressful environment, but this type of a person is most likely a rarity (excluding stock broker types of profession, where quiet offices would never work anyway).
In the quiet, the tendency is to actually think before speaking. Also, the less time and energy spent on talking, the more energy is left to think, isn’t there? When quiet, you get a chance to think a matter through and reflect on its nature, whereas a loud “action-man” could have skimmed over the surface without reaching the core of a problem.
Reflection and analysis
With a typical, loud group activity, there is often no time to really know what you think about the discussed matter. A benefit of working in peace and quiet is having the time and space to get to know what are the implications and possible consequences of an action and therefore what is the best way to proceed. There are no people able to think in pairs, are there? Of course, a discussion is one thing, but getting to know your own opinion on something is quite a different thing altogether.
A great example of a quiet, productive mindset are typical German offices — as mentioned in a BBC documentary Make me a German — chatting and taking care of private business while at work are not allowed — not just by the management — it’s simply being frowned upon by other employees. They are also very strict about keeping all communication direct and to the point — no hour-long “our vision” statement as a preface to all meetings allowed.
In general, there is a lot to be learned from this, seeing as the Germans tend to work shorter hours, yet produce more.
Being quiet creates a more productive atmosphere and builds better morale for the team. Why not try it for one day? It doesn’t take much, just shh…
First published on Kanban Tool Blog.