Have you ever sat in an office and felt like it was a bad place to get your work done? The reason for that could be poor office acoustics.
In a survey conducted by the Leesman Review, 76% of office employees list noise as a crucial workplace consideration, yet only 30% are actually satisfied with the noise levels in their workplace1.
Whether it’s a loud printer or chatter from your colleagues, unwanted noise can be disruptive to the productivity of the office. In fact, according to Alan Hedge of Cornell University, sounds created by humans are ranked highest in workplace distraction2.
This problem is more prevalent in open plan and modular offices, where there is typically less privacy and fewer barriers to noise as a result.
Research has shown that workers in an open office are 15% less productive, have greater difficulty concentrating, and can lose up to 20 minutes of concentrated work due small office distractions3.
These distractions are vastly detrimental to businesses, as it can take an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the task at hand, according to a study conducted by the University of California Irvine4.
However, with a few acoustic adjustments, the office can become a better environment to work in.
Good sound absorption is key to crafting a positive soundscape. Using non-reflecting and sound absorbing material, like stone wool, on the ceilings and walls can help cut down on reverberation. This means that sound waves travelling through a space will be less likely to reflect back into the space itself when coming into contact with a surface5.
By reducing distracting sound elements, a number of benefits can be observed in the office6:
- 48% increase in employee focus
- 51% drop in employee distraction
- 10% fewer errors made
- 27% reduction in stress level
Sound can have a profound impact on our lives, no matter where we are. Yet, it can go overlooked in an office environment, when people often have more pressing matters on their mind.
Nevertheless, by creating a workplace environment with good acoustics, you can develop an office that is not only more productive, but one that workers will enjoy working in.
1. Leesman, 2016, “100, 000+ A workplace effectiveness report”
2. Hedge, Alan, 1982, “The Open-Plan Office: A Systematic Investigation of Employee Reactions to Their Work Environment”: DOI: 10.1177/0013916582145002
4. Mark, Gloria & Gudith, Daniela & Klocke, Ulrich, 2008, “The cost of interrupted work: More speed and stress”: DOI: 10.1145/1357054.1357072
5. Lloyd, Llewelyn Southworth, 1970, “Music and Sound”. Ayer Publishing. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-8369-5188-2.
6. Sykes, David M., PhD., 2004, “Productivity: How Acoustics Affect Workers’ Performance in Open Areas”
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