How to write in a noisy environment

If you are a freelancer, chances are you have a quiet space available for your work. Copy writing within an office environment can present much more of a challenge when it comes to finding a suitable hideaway. As any office-dweller will know, meeting rooms are gold dust and sometimes even a booked room can be usurped by a colleague with a critical meeting to host. So with hideaway locations in high demand, it leaves us with the noisy open plan office environment.

Tuning out 

I work within a marketing team so there is need and desire for team collaboration. This usually works well, supported by facial cues and body language to suggest whether or not someone is open to questioning. However, the noise issue is not usually caused by team members because we can tune into each other’s vibe, it is the wider environment that impacts the most.

So to set the scene: Your blank word document is open and your copy writing task is ahead of you. The creativity is starting to whirl but the words have not yet been formed. All of a sudden, a few colleagues are beginning to have conversations around you and the noise is building. Then – the crescendo. At its peak your brain has lost all flow, your word document displays nonsense made up of a few words subconsciously picked up from random conversations.

How to write in this environment

It all sounds pretty hopeless, yet copy does get produced, so I deduce that I have evolved to write within this noisy environment. This is how:

1. Get to know the office quiet times (usually out of hours but could be worth it).

2. Keep a headset by your desk and listen to some music. You will have to keep the sound low enough to hear your phone ring and respond to someone waving at you but there is no doubt, this works.

3.Stick to your strongest time of day for this kind of work.You can work through some of the nosiest times when you are on a roll.

4.Divide up the writing task into component parts, produce half of it and then re-read it in a quieter moment to see if it makes sense.

5.Make your immediate team aware that you are writing, so they can withhold interruptions until you are finished.

So whilst the open-plan office would not be my preferred choice of environment for writing copy, it seems I have adapted to it.

I am very jealous if you are reading this from your attic office or garden out-house though!


About the author: Rebecca Greenwood


Creative professional marketer and copywriter with a passion for amateur photography

This article was first published by Rebecca Greenwood

2 replies
  1. Terry O'Brien
    Terry O'Brien says:

    Who thought that open office plans were a good thing?
    I’ve never met anyone (over 30) who likes them. Media should be made in a cave!

    I just did a video job in one. Imagine trying to mix audio in an undifferentiated open office environment. All the noise issues you mentioned — plus ambient music. It takes 3 times as long to do the work and I’m sure my hearing is compromised by having to crank up headphone volume to try and hear things like recorded room tone. Who was it at corporations bought into this big, happy open concept silliness?

    As it should be, I write this from my personal video edit suite with a view of the trees and mountains. Don’t be too jealous, I’m baking in the sun! It’s always something.

  2. vix
    vix says:

    I could as well just quote what Terry O’Brien wrote. Almost 30 years in the trade and I haven’t found a single colleague appreciating the productivity increase induced by the open space promiscuity. Not a one. But then, on the other hand, I suppose that responds to other issues, like stimulating rivalry and competitiveness, which in turn, supposedly, should bring to a strained exploitation of the talents present in the space. Does it make sense? To whom? I, for one, after 16 years in an open space – a very undisciplined one – am enjoying the silence and calm of my studio at home.

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