Computer Buzz

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about distracting noise:

I work in a very small office space where the computers are hooked up and there is a constant humming, buzzing, noise that is very distracting and now I am noticing I have ringing in my ears all the time. The boss says he’ll fix it, but it hasn’t happened

Signed, Buzzing

Dear Buzzing:

We focus on workplace communication rather than occupational health and safety issues. However, since this involves a communication breakdown as well as a noise situation, let me share some thoughts and see if they’re helpful to you. I don’t know what size computers you are talking about but they must be quite large to create that much noise! You mention that the boss says he’ll fix the noise but it hasn’t happened.

It could be there is nothing to be done if that is the only place where the computers can be. Or, it could be because he’s not bothered by them he thinks you shouldn’t be either. Or, he could just be a procrastinator. Consider developing a solution to suggest to your boss, so it will be an easy thing for him to approve a fix.

1.) Get a white noise device for your desk. Those make a whooshing noise that very effectively masks other sounds.

2.) Perhaps you could wear earbuds or an over-the-ear headset if having something in your ears bothers you.

3.) Maybe a screen or sound-insulating curtain could be placed in front of the computers or near your desk.

4.) Perhaps the placement of your desk could be changed somewhat to provide a bit more distance between you and the computer.

5.)Maybe you could play music at a soft level, but enough to cancel out the computer noise.

6.) If the computers are not working correctly, maybe you could look up the technician who could fix them and provide that to your boss.Those are all things you could mix and match to develop some potential solutions. If one doesn’t work you could try something else, since most of them don’t cost very much or require much effort.

If you present your boss with a suggestion or several suggestions it will remind him again and show him you’re serious about your concerns. If you ears are ringing, you certainly should do something to help the situation–or, as Dr. Gorden says, vote with your feet and find a less distracting workplace.You might want to research your state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to see if your workplace would come under those requirements. If it does, that would be your best argument for doing something quickly. I hope you are able to communicate directly with your boss about this. Be courteously adamant that you are being bothered a lot and something has to be done. If you are a valued employee and are seen to be working to improve things, it;s likely your boss will take the time to either explain why he can’t do anything or work with you to find a solution. I certainly hope so! Best wishes to you.

Tina Lewis Rowe