Office noise is robbing you blind

Published
10.4.2024
Author
Eva Maimre, Martin Kull
Reading Time
~3 mins
Categories
Tips & Tricks, Products
Privacy pods on different levels

Ever thought if the buzz and chatter around your desk could be more than just a mild annoyance? Well, it turns out that constant background noise at work isn’t just testing your patience — it’s sneakily chipping away at your focus, your health, and yep, even your company’s wallet.

The high cost of a cacophony

Recent studies paint a vivid picture: noise in the workplace isn’t something to shrug off. That relentless hum from the copier or the never-ending chatter from co-workers can actually lead to stress, a dip in how much you get done, and more people calling in sick. Company TheraSpec, catering to migraine sufferers, emphasizes the particular impact noise has on those with invisible disabilities, highlighting the need for sensitivity and awareness in the workplace.

This all hits the company’s bottom line hard. Meersens.com cites shocking numbers that are hard to ignore: the social cost of noise pollution in France amounts to 147.1 billion euros per year. That’s a direct consequence of wasted brainpower and compromised mental health, all because your team can’t hear themselves think! Additionally, studies highlight the staggering cost of high employee turnover – an estimated $1 trillion annually for U.S. businesses — emphasizing the need to invest in strategies that promote employee retention.

When silence is golden

The plot thickens with insights from Fast Company, pointing out that not all noises bug us the same way. It’s the bits and pieces of conversations we catch — that intermittent speech — that really throw us off our game, more so than a constant drone or the tunes you might be playing to drown them out​.

And here’s a twist: while too much noise is a buzzkill for productivity and peace of mind, a moderate level of background noise might actually spark your creativity. It seems our brains find that sweet spot where a little buzz gets the creative juices flowing. But push the noise even further (85 decibels — the roar of a diesel truck) and concentration becomes so demanding that the creative advantage disappears. But all in all, research clearly shows noise harms focus and output. In the world of knowledge work, silence is your productivity superpower.

Fight the noise, boost your profits

So, what can you do about it? Don’t worry, turning your office into a silent library isn’t the answer. Businesses need to rethink open-plan designs and reconsider the assumption that collaboration must be loud.

Here are some budget-friendly solutions to cut the decibels:

  • Silence the clutter: Invest in sound-absorbing materials like wall panels, ceiling tiles, or even strategically placed plants

  • Create zones: Designate meeting pods for private focused work, as well as spaces for meetings and collaboration.

  • Embrace flexibility: Allowing remote work options reduces office density, creating a quieter environment for those who need to come in.

  • Spread the “shh” word: Encourage using headphones for calls, keeping conference calls on mute, and being mindful of keyboard clatter.

  • Quiet by design: Use office room dividers strategically to redirect noise and provide focus zones.

  • Cultivate calm with mindful spaces: Dedicate areas for mindfulness practices or simply taking a break. These spas for the mind can be havens for refocusing.

A quieter office means a louder bottom line

Addressing the invisible chaos of noise does more than enhance employee comfort – it keeps your team sharp, healthy, and ultimately, boosts your business. In the quest for a quieter, well-designed workspace, a little hush can go a long way in bringing out the best in everyone. Who knew silence could speak volumes for success?

Need help quieting the chaos? We’re your workspace privacy experts. Ask us anything!

References

https://convene.com/catalyst/office/open-office-noise/

https://meersens.com/noise-at-work-what-impact-on-the-health-of-employees/?lang=en

https://www.gomada.co/blog/cost-of-employee-turnover-statistics

https://www.fastcompany.com/3051835/how-background-noise-affects-the-way-you-work

Eva Maimre

Silen Brand Ambassador, Investor and a Strategic Marketing & Growth Leader. With a background at Google and Lufthansa, she writes about workspace wellbeing, ESG impact and office space innovation. Connect with Eva on LinkedIn.

Martin Kull

COO and Global Growth Manager at Silen, with 20+ years of furniture industry expertise in growth and sales strategies, and award-winning product design. He shares insights on workspace innovation and sustainability. Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.