Study reveals impact of noise in the workplace

Monday, May 6, 2019

Noise negatively impacts a majority (69 per cent) of employees’ concentration levels, productivity and creativity, according to the results of What’s That Sound? – a workplace study by Interface.

According to the commercial flooring company’s press release, the survey uncovers how sound and acoustics impact employees in business environments and intends to inform employers on the importance of acoustical solutions for the current and future workforce.

The survey respondents work in a variety of settings, from assigned desks in open environments to shared offices and even cubicles. The results show that the top distractions are conversations among employees (71%), phone conversations (67%), phones ringing (62%) and the sound of people walking around (54%).

Highlights from the workplace acoustics study:

  • The study revealed the perceived negligence of employers in finding solutions for noise in the workplace. Forty-four per cent of those surveyed indicated their company does nothing to address noise, leaving employees to solve the problem themselves.
  • Sixteen per cent of those surveyed choose to work remotely due to unsolved noise problems, revealing the need for more touchdown areas, focus rooms and designated quiet areas for employees to retreat.
  • Nearly one-third of employees surveyed report working at an assigned desk or work station in an open environment. However, only 31 per cent of all respondents indicates that employers provide private spaces for phone calls or conversations.
  • The majority of employees who work at offices with wood, ceramic tile and concrete flooring say it is noisy at their offices (54%) compared to those who work in offices with carpeting (45%). Only 31 per cent report their workplace uses carpeting or area rugs to mitigate noise.
  • The research indicates noisy offices cause increased levels of stress and anxiety, with 50 per cent revealing noise levels would impact their decision to accept a job.

“When creating workspaces, designers are often asked to apply planning methodologies or specify products based on design trends, rather than the specific operating needs of a business. But the best designs are those rooted in solutions specific to company culture, environmental aspirations and respect for individual user choice,” explains Chip DeGrace, VP of workplace applications, Interface in the press release.

“This study confirms the importance of creating a productive workspace that accommodates a variety of work styles and preferences.”

More than 2,000 adult workers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia participated in the study in partnership with Radius Global Market Research.

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