Want to increase productivity? Look to your noise levels

23/01/20< Back to news index

Every single person who has worked in an open plan office knows the frustration of noisy office chatter, loud phone calls and that one colleague who feels the need to really hammer their keyboard to show how busy they are. These irritations may seem minor but can have devastating consequences for staff retention and ultimately for your company's bottom line. A failure to take noise reduction solutions into account when designing your office can cause staff to become frustrated, even to the point of looking to escape from all the hubbub, working at home more often or even seeking out a new employer that offers them quiet spaces.

A comfortable, contented workforce is the most efficient and, for companies considering making improvements to their workplaces, two figures from recent research stand out. Firstly, that workers lose about 90 minutes of useful working time a day to distractions. This is the equivalent of a full working day every week lost unnecessarily. Secondly, that over 90% of an organisation's operating costs is linked to employee efficiency.

We spend the majority of our time at work carrying out tasks that require concentration. Making this difficult doesn't just frustrate your staff, it's also wasted time and money due to this lost efficiency. To attract and retain the best workers and help them to stay focused and productive, you need to offer them the right conditions.

The modern working environment looks and feels far nicer than the old-fashioned office, but it's also important what it sounds like. Those 90 minutes of distractions are mostly noise-related, so you need effective office noise reduction systems. This can be done in several ways. Within the scope of your company's budget, existing buildings and aesthetics, you can make great improvements.

Options for productivity-enhancing surroundings include open, multifunctional, working environments where people collaborate or work alone as appropriate, connected building technology, relaxing biophilic designs and open ceiling environments. Single person working spaces, designated quiet zones and phone booths that block out noise are increasingly popular in office design and get high usage where they are made available.

For the physical environment, there are a number of treatments which can absorb, block or mask sound. These can be applied to walls, floors or ceilings. You can organise your workspaces into three types of area; interactive areas, where the noisier activities take place; focus areas where individuals can concentrate; and privacy areas where more confidential work can be done. You can also establish new norms of behaviour and embed these into your company culture to ensure these spaces are used correctly and everyone respects the needs of other workers.

We can help if you want to investigate incorporating noise reduction into your office design and reap the benefits of reduced operating costs, happier, more productive and less distracted staff.