Marco! Polo!freelancing loud neighbors

Marco! Polo!

Summer officially starts June 21st. Tell that to your neighbor, whose kids have been on the loose since school let out back in May.

Working from home is awesome, but it certainly comes with unique challenges. Whether you live in a neighborhood (like me) or an apartment, what happens outside of your walls is largely beyond your control.

In this post, I’ll share my tips for avoiding embarrassment with clients when your neighbors are being loud.

1. Know Your Neighbors

Do your neighbors sleep in? Are they night owls or early birds? This can play a major factor in how you budget your time. Assuming that your neighbors party every day during work hours, there might not be much you can do. However, if most of the raucous occurs in the afternoon, then try to schedule more meetings in the morning.

2. Soundproof (as Possible)

If you own or rent a house, selecting the correct room (away from the noise) as your office might be your best soundproofing option. I’ve tried a lot of creative ideas (including foam soundproofing equipment), but few things work better than distance. If you live in an apartment, you might consider installing a flooring solution that offers sound abatement. In fact, some municipalities require this type of soundproofing. Though, in all fairness, apartment dwellers rarely have to worry about pool parties. Blaring Eddie Van Halen solos are a greater probability.

3. Control the Audio Input

For most virtual meetings, you have several options for communicating. Typically, these include:

  • Phone conference
  • VoiceOver IP (such as a MeetingBurner web conference)
  • Typed chat via Skype or Google Hangout

Obviously, typed chat is best for really crazy party noise. Personally, I prefer typed chats anyway, as I instantly have a transcribed record of what was discussed.

However, sometimes clients really want to have a verbal conversation. If given the option, phone conferences are usually better options than VoiceOver IP. Why? Well, your phone is designed to pick up the audio coming out of your mouth. Whereas, your computer’s audio input is more likely to pick up ambient noise. At least that’s my experience.

4. Have a Quick Finger on the Mute Button

Just when you think the pool party is over, your neighbor gets ambitious and decides to do some serious weed eating. You’ve already started the conference, so switching formats isn’t an option. In this situation, you need to be actively muting yourself when you’re not speaking. Otherwise, your clients might get annoyed with the swarm of bees coming through the phone line.

5. Spill the Beans

When all else fails, just tell the truth. It goes something like this:

“Look, I’m really sorry, but my neighbors have decided to set off fireworks this afternoon. If you hear something crazy in the background, I apologize in advance.”

In the grand scheme of things, dealing with your neighbor’s awesome pool party is a minor inconvenience. It just comes with the territory of working from home. Have a plan for dealing with it, and you’ll never be underwater.

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Written by Matt Keener

Matt Keener is the original "Executive in Sweatpants," having built a successful online consulting business (from home). His best-selling book offers tips for capitalizing on outsourcing and freelancing. Matt holds an MBA and has been featured by many recognizable brands, including Upwork (formerly oDesk), Elance, Insightly, the Dave Ramsey Show, and Entrepreneur.com.

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