Noise in your office can make your accounts team more accurate, your creatives more creative, your salesmen sell more, and your operations team more efficient. Background noise has a huge impact on our productivity, and in today’s open plan offices, it is all around without us hardly being aware of it.

Yet too much noise has an impact on us that we feel in other ways. Namely:

  • Stress
  • Constant distractions
  • Lack of concentration

On average, our brains are wired to listen to 1.6 conversations, so how many times have you heard about Sharon in customer service’s cat, or Dave’s bad experience with your new supplier? Whilst it is great to keep in touch with what is going on, it is better to be focussed on the work in hand, and catch up with your colleagues during breaks, or at more convenient times.

Sound privacy is the number one complaint in UK offices. Seeing as every workspace is a multi-sensory experience, it is important to make sure that your offices are designed with sound privacy in mind. The optimum noise levels for an office are between 50-60 dB. Anything quieter amplifies the noises that do occur, and anything louder makes focussing on the task in hand difficult.

So if your office is noisy, what options are available to make it quieter? We’re glad you asked

If you are looking for a highly effective, more permanent method you can try:

  • Using plants as a way to disrupt sound waves and absorb noise. Check out this living wall we installed at AJW Aviation’s Headquarters

  • Install a clever ceiling to trap sound waves. Atlas Copco effectively used this method in their reception area:

  • Implement fabric acoustic wall panels or ceiling fins. We chose to use ceiling fins in our offices

However, if you are looking for a more cost effective, temporary fix:

  1. Try using noice-cancelling headphones
  2. Use white noise to cover up other distractions
  3. Allocate a ‘loud space’ where it is ok to speak out, hold brainstorms or make noise.

All around us is background noise and in today’s distracting world, we are finding it ever-more important to manage the noises around us.

But the comfort of office staff isn’t the only issue at stake. On average employees waste 21.5 minutes every day being distracted by conversations around them. If you have 50 employees working at the UK average wage of 26,500 per annum, distractions alone could be costing you around 58,000 a year. This calculation is a conservative estimate – other recent studies show employees losing 86 minutes per day, or taking 15 minutes to recover from a distraction. It is a worthwhile exercise to discover what distractions could be costing your organisation!

Because you can’t see noise, it is easy to hope it will just ‘go away’. However, without any action being taken, this is unlikely to happen. But if you are in the process of upgrading your office space, now is a good time to take this into account. Speak to a company that has 40 years of experience in creating office environments. Our designers will pay attention to all aspects of your office, and create a space that helps to enhance the productivity of your people.

Find out how much distraction could be costing your organisation by working through the figures.


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