Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

How Do You Stay Productive in a Noisy Office?

The past couple of weeks the Quality Logo Products has been undergoing some construction. Fancy new doorways and bathrooms are nice and all, but man is it hard to get stuff done with all of the loud noises that come along with construction. We all need to find ways to stay motivated for the right reasons, especially in extra noisy environments.

Let’s be honest, even when there’s not construction it can still get pretty loud and distracting here at Quality Logo Products headquarters. Whether it’s a bags tournament, drive-by trick-or-treating, remote control helicopters, or random sing-a-longs, there’s always something exciting (and therefore loud) going on here.

covering ears

When it gets too loud, just take your shirt off and cover your ears!

For some people a little background noise is helpful. Other people require complete silence in order to get work done. According to a study published earlier this year, there’s a background noise sweet spot for maximizing creativity: 70 decibels. So the chatter in a coffee house is perfect for fostering productivity, but loud yelling and power drills are way too distracting and complete silence isn’t stimulating enough. So how do you get into your productivity sweet spot?

Even though the noise levels around Quality Logo Products may frequently rise above 70 decibels, we’ve still got pretty rigorous workloads to manage. Everyone has their own ways of staying focused throughout the chaos. We know we’re not the only ones with a distracting, noisy work environment, so how do you stay productive and manage your time when things get crazy at your office? Whether your boss is always shouting on the phone, your office mate is always listening to horrible music, or your co-workers are always gossiping, how do you still get work done?

cover your ears

Seriously every person covering their ears in a stock photo is topless. Is this a common thing?

We’ve written about workplace productivity and time management before. We’ve written about cubicle zen and taking naps at work. There’s no denying that there are countless ways for people to channel their energy and make the most out of their day at work, no matter how noisy.

When it comes down to it most of us rely on a rockin’ playlist and some good headphones. We may or may not be guilty of listening to “Gangnam Style” on repeat. A lot of us use some version of a browser extension that serves as a timer. Nothin’ serves as a motivator like a race against the clock! I use Chromodoro, a browser extension for Google Chrome that embeds a timer in your browser,  because it allows me to allot a specific amount of time for any given project. Amy uses an online stopwatch.

To keep myself from succumbing to distraction I also use the browser extension Nanny for Google Chrome. It allows me to block certain websites (*COUGH* Facebook *COUGH*) for a designated amount of time so that I’m forced to stay on task.

But enough about us. We want to hear from you! What do you do to stay on task when your work environment is loud and distracting? Do you use sound-proof headphones? Or do you rely on online tools for time management and organization? Do you take a break to meditate or walk around the block to clear your head?

Sound off in the comments section below and chime in with your own suggestions for staying productive in a noisy office! 


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Alex Brodsky

    This is perfect timing for this blog post!

    I was just saying how not being able to stream “Waddle and Silvy” (the sports guys) right now is hurting my productivity. Nice to know the “70 Decibels Rule” exists!

    I LOVE justification for my crazy theories!

  2. keith

    My key to productivity with the noisy office is 80’s Pandora. It keeps me going!

  3. Eric

    I’ve got a two-part solution: 1.) in-ear headphones, and 2.) instrumental film soundtracks. It’s not that I don’t like music with lyrics…I just find myself wanting to sing or hum along, and that’s more of my brain than I should have distracted from my work. Doesn’t hurt, though, that I can pop in a soundtrack like the one from “The Cider House Rules,” and suddenly imagine myself in rural New England. Definite bonus.

    • Rachel

      I listen to tons of film soundtracks too, Eric! Soundtrack lovers unite! Working on spreadsheets suddenly becomes more epic while listening to a Hans Zimmer soundtrack. 🙂

      Headphones and music are definitely my solution to a noisy office as well. The type of music depends on what project I’m working on or how noisy things are: instrumental for when I need to concentrate, regular lyric-based stuff for less thinky work. Sometimes Pandora’s comedy station too, when I need a change of pace or a pick-me-up. Switching up my music throughout the day helps me to block off time and mentally switch over to new tasks.

      Right now I’m mostly listening to Christmas music, though. 🙂

      Also, Jenna, your photo captions in this post had me snickering. It’s always an adventure browsing through stock art …

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    I’m more of the “get up and go talk a walk” camp. Though when that’s not an option, I’ll try and put on some chill music like classical, movie soundtracks, or light pop (is that a genre? It think now…).

    And sometimes, “Gangnam Style” and “Party Rock Anthem” are needed to refocus my attention. Depends on the kind of noise, I suppose.

  5. Mikey

    I’m also a member of the “listen to music” camp. A lot of rock and metal, for the most part. I do listen to some soundtracks, but most of those are from musicals or the like (so they’re not just background music, but actual songs). Music can really help keep me focused, and also provides a great pick-me-up when I’m tired or feeling down.

  6. Wash

    I definitely agree with instrumental music when concentrating on work and/or being creative….unless you’re listening to music you know REALLY well. I’ve found myself trying to listen very closely to music I’d never heard before, but I tended to tune out if it’s something I’d heard hundreds of times.

  7. Judy

    These are good advices as long as you can concentrate with music. I’m very sensitive to noise and I can’t concentrate with music. Earplugs work to some extend, but it is still too noisy for me. To me, speaking loud at the office is just a lack of respect for your coworkers. Point.

  8. Darlene

    I actually mentioned something about the noise level in our last office meeting. It helped for about half a day, as most of the noise is due to loud talkers and incessant conversations. Unfortunately, my position doesn’t really give me the flexibility to throw on headphones and tune out the noise. It’s really hard to concentrate!

  9. notgonnatellyou

    I want to leave my job because of the noise..!

  10. Marc

    The worst thing are the managers who think that making noise is good for the company atmosphere or something. Like if there is a lot of noise people communicate, and who complains is a nerd. If they say something like that, I will start looking for another job.

  11. Walker

    I used to work in an office with drop ceilings that was right next to a really noisy coworker. The problem was our walls didn’t even go up to the slab above, so all the noise just went right through the drop-ceilings and into my office! We tried a lot of options… Ended up getting a product called “drop ceiling blokker”. Think it was from Blocked most of the noise. Walls were still kind of flimsy so we used a contractor to beef them up with Mass load vinyl from another company. Eventually was able to get back to work, but probably took 3 weeks from me complaining to my boss until we finally had it done!

  12. A

    music is what work for me, but now my manager told i can have music and i can not focus on work. i am distracted by every sound in the office, i can even focus on looking up alternatives to music.

  13. Kiosk Lockdown Software

    Nice share, however in some scenarios you need to keep the employees out of the noise(being unproductive) & this can be done by limiting access to apps, websites or device settings by locking the device in kiosk mode.

  14. ScaleFusion

    Well written, office admin or managers can choose appropriate policies if they can adopt “bring your own device” policy so that employees can stay productive and content with the team with an in-built messaging app with a BYOD solution.

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