Sounds, especially those made by other humans, have ranked as the top distraction in the workplace, according to design expert Alan Hedge of Cornell. A staggering 74 percent of workers say they face "many" instances of disturbances and distractions from noise. Hedge says the noise is generally coming from another person, though it's much more disturbing when it's a machine that is making it. NPR reports: The popularity of open offices has exacerbated the problem. The University of California's Center for the Built Environment has a study showing workers are happier when they are in enclosed offices and less likely to take sick days. This does not bode well for some workers facing cold and flu season, when hacking coughs make the rounds. [...] Rue Dooley, an adviser at the Society for Human Resource Management, says HR professionals often call in, asking how to manage co-worker complaints about various bodily noises.