Workplace Hack: Make Some Noise to Be More Creative

What’s the right amount of noise to have in the office? For me, silence can be as distracting as everyone talking at once.


In the study Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition, Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu, and Amar Cheema examine how ambient, or background, noise affects creativity. They found that, while high levels of noise were harmful to creativity, moderate levels of ambient noise actually enhanced creative performance.

As you might expect, higher levels of noise increased distraction. However, this distraction resulted in more abstract thought processing, inducing greater creativity. When the noise got too loud however, information processing was reduced, impairing creativity.

To follow this workplace hack, try working in an environment with a moderate level of background noise when you are seeking creativity.

Work in an office that’s too loud or too quiet? You might want to try using a white noise app to recreate the moderate levels of ambient noise you might find in a busy office or coffee shop. Try Coffitivity to be surrounded by the sounds of your favourite coffee shop or Thunderspace to work away to the sound of a thunderstorm.

Do you work better in silence or with background noise? Share your experiences in the comments below.


This hack is part of a series of weekly workplace hacks that teaches you about collaboration, productivity and time saving tips. Published every Wednesday.

Photo Credit: jDevaun via Compfight cc