• Carole Katz

Stop Visual "Noise" from Ruining Your Work


From the Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2017

Why you can't concentrate at your work? Well, there must be quite a range of factors, either relating to your inner self or relating to your work environment. If you, like most of today's working professionals all over the world, are working in an open-plan office, and you are easily affected by the environment, then oftentimes you should blame the distractions that may easily ruin your work.

The most common source of distractions are the disruptive sounds, which most working professionals have long combated. But aside from disruptive sounds, visual "noise", which refers to "the activity or movement around the edges of an employee’s field of vision", can also erode your concentration and hamper your productivity.

Earlier this month, Sue Shellenbarger, creator and writer of the Wall Street Journal's "Work & Family" column, writes about the problem of visual noise at the workplace, pointing out that visual noise could pull employees' eyes away from their desks and disrupt their concentration.


In explaining how visual noise may erode employees' concentration, Sue cited Sabine Kastner's (a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Princeton University) viewpoint that "unpredictable movements around the edges of a person’s field of vision compete for cognitive resources" and thus pull a person's attention away from his or her work. Aside from that, Sue also cited Leigh Stringer's (a senior workplace expert) argument that "being visible to bosses and colleagues can make workers in some jobs feel pressured to conform to others’ expectations" and thus distract their focus.

Sue also mentioned how several companies in the US. have been taking initiatives to deal with visual distractions, such as building "focus rooms" (small rooms with a single desk) or quiet rooms, installing bigger computer screens, and so forth.

For more details, click here to read the full article.


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