A new study from Avanta Serviced Office Group has revealed that noisy office environments significantly damage the productivity of British companies. The study, which surveyed over 1,000 office workers, found that although eight out of ten workers claimed to be frequently distracted by a noisy work environment, less than half complained about it, choosing instead to take their work elsewhere. The study also identified the most bothersome distractions – shown in the infographic below.
Highlights from the study
- The report corroborates other studies about the relationship between sound and productivity
- More than eight out of ten workers are regularly distracted by office noise
- Almost a third of British workers feel compelled to leave the office because of noise
- The impact of noise is particularly significant in open plan offices where it impacts 70% of workers
- Nearly half of British works tend to suffer in silence rather than complain or take action to reduce the distracting noise
- Noise from ‘human sources’ (coworkers’ conversations, loud ‘phone voices’ and coughing and sneezing, for example) is more distracting than noise from inanimate objects(e.g. air-conditioning units and whirring computers)which feature much lower down on the list of irritations.
Julian Treasure, an expert on how sound impacts workers, suggests that noisy office environments should be “dampened down” to an ideal setting of 45-55dB. Quieter work environments, however, may require “masking sound” such as “ birdsong or gently flowing water” to afford employees some privacy and keep distractions to a minimum. Treasure and his colleague and fellow sound expert Chris Adair have incorporated a number of sound principles into a uniquely designed work environment, called the Avanta Sound Room – a “working environment designed with the effect of ambient sound in mind.” As Treasure explains, sound has a potent effect on our “psycho-physiological state”, so any steps to mitigate its effect are, therefore, welcome.
Are you regularly distracted by office noise, and if so, does it affect your productivity significantly? What is your company doing about it?