How To Set Up A Quiet Room At Work
> Quiet rooms reduce stress and provide calm
Think back to when you were a kid and you did something that really pissed off your mom or dad.
Chances are that you were told, “Go to your room!” Or, maybe you had to stand in the corner for awhile. Your punishment was solitude and silence - no interactions.
The time you had to spend alone, with your thoughts and why you’re getting punished, seemed like an eternity. One minute felt like an hour.
You wanted to get back to playing with your toys, watching TV and doing all the fun stuff that kids do. But, you couldn’t and you were forced to be alone and quiet against your will.
Now, as working adults, we’re up to our necks in work at the office and our personal lives outside of work can be just as stressful, if not more.
Seriously, there are some days where we just can’t seem to catch a break and all hell’s breaking loose.
Your inbox is blowing up.
There are overlapping deadlines.
Your boss is getting on your case.
The computer isn’t cooperating.
Your desk neighbors are irritating the shit out of you.
And it’s during these kinda days, where we wish we could just be left alone - in silence.
Oh the irony of the situation.
The bad news is that we can’t just “go to our room” while we’re at work. The closest most of us have to our own little private space at the office is on the toilet. And, that’s not exactly a quiet place.
The good news is that most of us can have a mental escape from all that’s going on in life, right at work.
It’s called a quiet room and it’s something that you can easily set up at your office.
What Is A Quiet Room?
Put simply, it’s a multi-purpose space that’s dedicated to noise-free activities. Most of the time, these activities are for stress relief, to get away from everything for a few minutes and catch your breath, slow your heart rate and/or dial down the madness.
When things get frantic at work and it feels like the world is caving in on you, you need to have a place to escape to, both mentally and physically.
Sometimes, it can get so bad that all we want is nothing but total and complete silence.
And there’s only one place on Earth that’s been qualified by the Guiness Book of World Records as “The Quietest Place On Earth.”
VIDEO: Quietest place on earth gives sailor peace
> When you can hear your own blood flow, that’s damn quiet
> Brings the term “deafening silence” to reality
> Maybe total complete silence isn’t the best thing for us
Anechoic chambers like this are not common at all and are mostly for scientific, industrial or commercial purposes. It’s not really meant for normal people like you and I.
What we’re after is a quiet room that’s about supporting calmness and serenity.
Currently, there aren’t many companies that have designated quiet rooms.
If you work at a very large Fortune 100 company or an office with 1,000+ people, there’s a good chance that you might have a quiet room that doubles as a lactation room for nursing mothers.
Otherwise, the rest of the working world doesn’t have this amenity. But, that doesn’t mean it has to be that way.
How To Set Up A Quiet Room
Setting up a quiet room is fairly straightforward. It’s essentially repurposing an existing space for another use. So, there’s no capital investment or major renovation efforts required.
However, there are some basic steps and guidelines that you should follow to boost your chances for approval and make it work well for its intended purpose.
Step #1: Gather Support From Co-Workers
You may really want to have a quiet room, but does anyone else?
Put out an informal group email to a bunch of your coworkers and propose the idea for repurposing an unused or underutilized meeting room as a quiet space for meditation, reading, relaxing, napping, praying, etc.
Get a pulse for what others think about the idea and whether or not they’d actually use it.
If nobody is interested and you’re the sole person needing a quiet room, then your chances of getting a dedicated quiet room is pretty much nil.
You’d be better off reserving a small meeting room to yourself during lunch hour and just making that your informal quiet room.
However, if you can build support from at least a handful of co-workers or more, then you’ve got “strength in numbers” for greater influence. And that’s when you can move on to the next step.
Step #2: Get Buy-In From Management
Unless you want to be a renegade and risk getting your idea booted before it even has a chance to take off, it’s best to put together a very simple plan to get buy-in from the right folks up top.
Reach out to your local human resources person and work with him or her to put together a simple discussion document.
Don’t make it some super-detailed 50+ page powerpoint presentation with floorplan blueprints and research stats about meditation. Nobody wants to go through that.
Keep it simple and high-level. Limit the discussion document to 5 slides or less.
You may not be presenting this proposal. It just may be a discussion document that’s shared among the senior or executive management.
However, be prepared to present it if necessary.
Here are some of the core items that you should include:
- Overview request for a designated quiet room
- Survey results from coworkers supporting idea
- Proposed room to be used
- Options for room setup
- Proposed rules and guidelines
For the second to last point above, it’s a good idea to provide management with three choices on how the quiet room can be set up.
Here are the three options that you should include:
Option A: Zero-Cost Approach
This is the easiest for management to approve since it doesn’t require any changes at all. It’s simply using the meeting room as is. It’s just officially designating it as a “quiet room”.
The only thing we’d suggest is to have the room named changed if there is a placard outside the room. It’s also a good idea to ask IT to rename it in the conference room email directory too.
This will allow it to be reserved for instructor-led meditations, group prayer, etc. Other than those group sessions, it should be an open room policy.
Option B: Moderate Budget Approach
If management has a bit of a budget to work with and wants to step up support, you can propose some nominal improvements or additions to the room.
Most conference rooms have a basic table, chairs and maybe even a whiteboard and presentation screen. It’s all fine and good, but it’s not really inviting.
We know that most meeting rooms don’t have a lot of extra space. So, given that fact, you can make changes that don’t consume a lot of extra space and make it more inviting.
Here are some ideas:
- High back reclining chairs
- Tabletop mini fountain
- Relaxing landscape framed prints
- Calming salt lamps
- Mini library of books and/or magazines
Option C: Go All Out High Class
If your idea is a home-run with management and they’ve got some real budget to throw at it, then you can really make the room a stand-out resource for the company.
While this wouldn’t be a full-on renovation, it does call for some big bucks. The costs will vary depending upon the size of the room and all the add-ons and improvements.
Here’s what we’d ask for if we’re given a sizeable budget to play with:
- Soundproofing the room
- LED color-adjustable room lighting
- Napping pods
- Massaging recliners
- VR headsets with relaxation videos
One of these options should work. And, don’t get all sour if the only option they approve is the zero-cost one. Be happy and grateful that it got approved.
Once you have a successful first year of use, then you can justifiably request for room improvements in the second year.
The idea here is to just get it started.
Step #3: Set Up The Room
The quiet room should be in an area that’s away from other office noise. So, stay away from the copiers/printers, kitchen/break rooms, elevators/stairs, warehouse, visitor lobby etc.
In a lot of cases, the meeting room that is the furthest away and most inconvenient to get to is often the most isolated and thus, the quietest.
If you don’t have all the meeting room locations memorized, go for a walk around your office and check out the rooms.
If you work at a really large company, you can ask your facilities department for a listing and map of all the meeting rooms on campus.
Whatever room you end up using, just be sure that it’s quiet - that’s the main goal.
Next, the room should be neutral without any loud, bright colors and/or scents. It has to look and feel calm and relaxing.
To further promote inner peace and quietude, the overall layout of a room should be clean, open and uncluttered. This will boost feelings of calmness, spaciousness and freedom.
Step #4: Set Basic Rules & Guidelines
Before opening up the room for use, it’s a good idea to clearly communicate some basic rules and guidelines to everyone ahead of time.
Setting rules for your workplace quiet room and making sure everyone understands the rules will ensure that everyone can enjoy it equally.
Your quiet room rules and guidelines should be tailored to your specific environment and culture. However, they should include the following core items:
- All activities and attendees must be quiet
- No talking in room, take all convos outside
- No headphone music
- No eating/drinking
- Phones on mute; no sounds, no vibrating
- Open religion policy for prayers
You may need to tweak or add to the list. Bounce your list of rules and guidelines with HR and get their feedback. They might have other good suggestions too.
Step #5: Get The Word Out
When it’s time to get the word out to the company, you’ve got two main choices.
One - you can just send out an email explaining the quiet room along with the rules and guidelines attached.
Or two - you can host a brief meeting to explain everything and do a short Q&A session.
While sending out an email is efficient and quick, it doesn’t quite have the same impact as presenting it in person. And, it won’t get as much traction either, which is what you want to avoid.
You want to make sure that people will use it and the more they use it, the stronger the chances are that it'll survive as a resource for years to come.
Our suggestion is that you present the newly approved perk to the team. After all, it was your idea and it’s time that you got some recognition around there.
If you’re a bit nervous about presenting to a large group, then enlist the support of your HR manager to co-present the new quiet room to the entire staff. Having some HR backing would be further proof that the company is behind it.
This is a great opportunity to explain all the bennie’s of having a quiet space to escape to when work stress is out of control and/or when anyone needs some peaceful silence or a time-out breather.
Start Your Journey To Serenity
Humans were never meant to work non-stop all day long. Our minds and bodies need a bit of downtime here and there throughout the day to recoup, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
When you can’t decompress from the stressors of the day, you open yourself up to more issues ranging from weakened immunity, high blood pressure, increased anxiety, lack of sleep, etc.
Basically, it messes you up.
But, when you can get away from all the craziness and press the pause button on the world, you’ll allow your mind and body to recover. Even just 5-10 minutes of peaceful solitude is all it takes to bring things back to a more manageable level.
And, when you don’t have to resort to using the porcelain perch in the bathroom, you’ll get exponentially more recovery.
A quiet room is a great way to dial down the madness while at the same time, recharging yourself for the rest of the day.
So, get started on your plan and set up your quiet room at the office.
And after you get it launched, you’ll be happy when your boss tells you to “go to your room”. 😉