3 On Your Side

There may be a reason your office space annoys you

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More than 70 percent of American workers now work in open office spaces. If you can see everyone around you when you sit down to get the job done, you know it can increase collaboration, but there can also be challenges. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) More than 70 percent of American workers now work in open office spaces. If you can see everyone around you when you sit down to get the job done, you know it can increase collaboration, but there can also be challenges. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Take Rhonesha Byng, for example. She loves her job, but a cubicle-free, open office environment created problems. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Take Rhonesha Byng, for example. She loves her job, but a cubicle-free, open office environment created problems. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Leigh Stringer helps design office space for a living. She says, “visual noise” can be caused by things like bright walls, busy pictures, knickknacks or clutter on your co-workers’ desks, even your co-workers themselves. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Leigh Stringer helps design office space for a living. She says, “visual noise” can be caused by things like bright walls, busy pictures, knickknacks or clutter on your co-workers’ desks, even your co-workers themselves. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

More than 70 percent of American workers now work in open office spaces. If you can see everyone around you when you sit down to get the job done, you know it can increase collaboration, but there can also be challenges. A major culprit: noise. But the kind you “hear” may not be the biggest distraction.

Take Rhonesha Byng, for example. She loves her job, but a cubicle-free, open office environment created problems.

“The distractions just made it a little difficult for me to really focus in on getting stuff done,” she says.

The distractions she’s talking about are primarily from noise -- not just the kind heard from fellow co-workers, but also from what’s seen. It’s called “visual noise.”

“Visual noise, it can be a huge problem in the office,” says workplace strategist Leigh Stringer, “and the reason being is that it does impact productivity.”  Research even proves it.

Stringer helps design office space for a living. She says, “visual noise” can be caused by things like bright walls, busy pictures, knickknacks or clutter on your co-workers’ desks, even your co-workers themselves.

“The biggest cause of visual noise is movement of people,” Stringer explained.

“I’m someone who’s super nosy,” Byng says, “and I always tend to look at other people’s screens and see what they’re doing, what they’re working on.”

But, there are solutions like more subtle wall color, targeting lighting, adding special privacy barriers like blinds, or plants to block your view of co-workers, even turning desks away from corridors. 

Jason Saltzman, the owner of an office space for entrepreneurs, worked with a designer to reduce visual noise at his newest location.

“We look at it in terms of what people need, what are the needs of the work environment, how can we make it more productive,” Saltzman said.        

Saltzman owns the office space where Byng performs her job. It’s one of many places now giving workers choices, like community areas when people want to be more social or collaborate, or private areas when workers really want to focus.       

“I can now close the door and I have access to a private area and really get stuff done.”  And, Saltzman says, “There’s a balance between private offices and open space that really mixes the noise capability,” 

Byng says, for her, that balance is boss.

“There’s privacy and community in the best way.”

And, if you’re bothered by all the noise you hear from co-workers, some experts suggest one easy fix is good, old-fashioned headphones.

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Gary HarperGary Harper is the senior consumer and investigative reporter for 3 On Your Side at KTVK-TV.

Click to learn more about Gary.

Gary Harper
3 On Your Side

With more than 20 years of television experience, Gary has established himself as a leader in the industry when it comes to assisting viewers and resolving their consumer-related issues. His passion and enthusiasm have helped him earn an Emmy for Best Consumer Reporter from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also garnered several Emmy nominations

He has negotiated resolutions with companies of all sizes, including some of the biggest corporations in the nation.

Gary has successfully recouped more than $1 million for viewers around the state, making 3 On Your Side one of the most popular segments on KTVK and the station's Web site.

He's best known for investigating and confronting unscrupulous contractors. In fact, many of his news reports have led to police investigations and jail time for those who were caught. Viewers, as well as the companies and people he investigates, regard him as consistently being thorough and fair.

Gary has been with KTVK-TV since 1997. Prior to his arrival in Phoenix, he worked for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was as an anchor and reporter.

Gary is from Chicago, but launched his television career in Lubbock, Texas, after earning a broadcast journalism degree from Texas Tech University. Following his graduation, he was quickly hired by KLBK-TV in Lubbock, where he enterprised and broke numerous exclusive reports. His aggressive reporting in Texas helped garner him Best Reporter by the Associated Press.

Gary has been married since 1994 and is the proud father of two sons. When he's not helping viewers, Gary is busy catching up on his favorite college and professional football teams as well as cheering on his beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders.

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