We’ve all been there, you’re sitting at your workstation trying your best to concentrate, but you just can’t. There’s one of those pesky irritating noises sapping your attention span, taking away your focus, slowly but surely turning it into frustration.

Ambient noise is a concentration killer, whether you are in an office, a coffee shop, or at home trying your best to get some work done while your neighbours are having an extension built. Fortunately, there are ways to filter out the background noise and ensure that your productivity levels remain high.




And yes, there are instances that ambient noise can actually be helpful and make you productive, but you have to spend quite some time trying to find the specific noise that impacts you positively. For now, we’re all about the dark sides.

So, let’s get to the meat of it – here are what we consider to be the top five irritating noises you’ll face at work (in no particular order, and wherever you are), and how to deal with them.

1. Co-workers

Whether you are working full-time in an office, or working in a co-working space, the constant background noise of your co-workers can prove to be a blight on your concentration levels, and thus also your productivity levels.

noisy office

Sure, it’s great to have people around that you can ask for advice, but sometimes you just need a bit of peace and quiet so that you can get your work done! If it’s all getting too much, speak to your manager about the possibility of moving your workstation so that you can escape the noise.

2. Builders at work

There’s probably nothing worse than sitting down to work at your nice tidy desk with a fresh cup of coffee, and then you hear it… The aggressive drilling and hammering sounds (as well as some choice language) coming from the guys nearby getting their own work done.

The fortunate thing with this kind of irritating noises is that it’s most likely to be a temporary affair. If the background noise carries on for several days or so, your best bet is to go and ask them how long they plan on making such a racket for.

Noise cancelling headphones will only help so much here, so if they plan on building for a while, you might be best off picking a new spot to work from for a few days.

3. The sound of the streets

This one depends on where exactly you are based/choose to do your work. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional honk of a horn (even though you have to ask yourself if that really ever make anyone go any faster?) but if it becomes an all-day affair then God help you.

street irritating noises

This is a sure-fire case where you should probably consider moving to work somewhere else – unless you are a police traffic officer of course. If that’s not an option, then ear plugs, or active noise cancelling headphones are your best bet.

4. Animals

We all love animals, or at least we should. However, there is at least one instance that is going to test the patience of even the Dalai Lama himself – relentlessly barking dogs when the innocent postman arrives to deliver packages to next door but two, and the owners are out.

Take solace in the fact that it should be over in a matter of minutes, but sometimes this isn’t always the case. This is another one of those times where you either need to take an extended break, or seek refuge in a nearby safe haven like a coffee shop.

5. Your own family

At first, the subtitle here was “children”, but on second thought, that isn’t really the truth, is it? Sure, children can make an awful din, but from personal experience, the largest distractions where background noise is concerned comes from the adults in the family!

If children are making a hearty amount of background noise, just find something to entertain them; it defies logic, but some adults require a slightly deeper level of tact.

The best advice we can give is to make a clear distinction between your professional, and personal life. Don’t allow visiting friends or the family members that live with you to interfere with your work. Make it crystal clear to them that you are busy working, and that you will be free to speak to them later, help them find the fresh batteries for the TV remote, or whatever it is that they want to bed your ear for.

This can be especially difficult if you share a home with several “stay at home” folk, but you have to set constructive boundaries with them – they have to understand when you can be disturbed and when you simply need to be left alone to get work done.


With each day that goes by, more and more people are starting to properly understand how drastic an impact background noise has on their productivity and concentration levels, whether they are working remotely from home, in a coffee shop, or in the office.

background noise

We hope that this article will aid you in your quest to identify, and eliminate the most common background noises and improve the quality of your work.

One final tip, if you regularly use (or plan on using) noise cancelling headphones when working to block out ambient noise to help you maintain your concentration, or for making calls over the Internet, then you should definitely consider adding Krisp to your utility belt.

This nifty noise cancelling app filters out pesky background noise at both ends for you, leading to a significant boost in the quality of your calls, and your peace of mind. Try it for yourself  and let us know how you get on in the comments!

Do you find that background noise often negatively affects the quality of your work? How do you deal with the annoyance of irritating noises? What’s the worst experience you have ever had with background noise? Let us know in the comments section below…