A while ago, the company I work for decided that it would take a run at the open plan office fad commonly referenced in Manage The Shit Out Of The Shit books.
The open plan office is supposed to help collaboration by literally removing the barriers between folks. In some of our offices, we just have rows of white tables with chairs and telephones. In reality, the lack of privacy has actually been found to have the opposite effect.
I don’t want to hear about DNS entries. I don’t always need to hear about the next product launch. That’s work stuff. I also don’t need to hear about you booking your daughter’s medical appointments or telling her how to heat pancakes in a toaster, and nor do I want you to hear me making private phone calls that I can’t do at home outside of office hours.
However, there’s one particular sound that irritates me more than anything else in the office, and it might even be irrespective of the open plan, and that’s inappropriate phone ring tones, and they can be inappropriate in one of two ways.
The first strand of inappropriateness is volume. You’re in an office and you barely move from your desk unless it’s to go to the toilet or the canteen which are significant distance away meaning that you wouldn’t be able to hear it ringing anyway. Therefore there’s no need to make sure that every person in the office can hear when you’re at desk.
The volume is even worse when the tone itself is aggravating. That can be from the annoying tone of high pitched beeps, to those that feel it necessary, in work, to treat us (repeatedly) to Evanescence or Mumford & Sons. We once had a guy who, to his credit, usually kept his phone on silent, but used the entire five minutes and 32 seconds of Enter Sandman as message alert. Not usually a problem, but when he left his phone on his desk with the volume on one lunchtime, is wasn’t that amusing.
In the office, I’m pretty sure that subtlety with your phone is all that’s really needed.