There are many factors which affect the productivity in an organization, including unwanted and distracting noise. So, when you consider that employees' salaries and benefits can make up to 52% of an organization's operating budget, anything that boosts productivity will have positive financial impacts on an organization (C. Deeb). Furthermore, distracting noises do not only affect productivity, but can also increase stress levels and affect job satisfaction. Therefore, providing acoustic solutions in an office environment should be a strong consideration when an organization wants to improve productivity and output from their employees.
The increase in open work spaces, which are designed to encourage collaboration, communication and interaction, also impacts the office’s sound environment. In addition, the common use of hard surfaces in an office, such as wooden floors, glass walls and concrete areas, enables sound waves to bounce easily, creating noisy and echoey spaces. These two factors lead to an increase in the amount of distracting noises in an office, which are transmitted from internal or external sources of noise, including conversations from colleagues or noises from devices. That said, it takes 20 minutes for an employee to regain focus after a minor sound distracts them (University of California). These distracting noises are one of the main reasons for ongoing productivity losses and declining job satisfaction in office environments.
and this noise prevents office employees from carrying out their work accurately and efficiently. If this is not managed appropriately, it could become problematic for many organizations to achieve their strategic and financial goals in the long run.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on how employees carry out their daily and organizational tasks within an organization. Since the majority of organizations had to put their employees in home office, and now have normalized the use of the hybrid working model, a completely different working environment and behaviour in offices has emerged. This hybrid model allows employees to work a couple of days at home, working independently on tasks that require a high level of concentration, and work the other days in the office, collaborating and communicating intensely with fellow employees on team projects. Many organizations believe this is the future of working as everything begins to normalize again after the pandemic (McKinsey & Company). However, as people have become accustomed to working in a home office with noise due to children, partners or other distractions, the demand for highly productive office environments has increased, especially in terms of regulating noise. Therefore, this will lead to further investments in acoustic solutions in order for organizations to provide an environment conducive to this.
Nevertheless, there are many ways to combat unwanted noise in offices. Analyzing the acoustics and utilizing various acoustic materials and furnishings throughout an office can create an environment that promotes productivity and well being for employees. With less noise distractions in an office, a study has shown that up to 75% of employees will be more productive, and also more focused and efficient (W, Thibodeaux). In addition to that, good room acoustics can help decrease sick days and improve employee morale. With many sound absorbing and acoustic solutions available, each room can be optimized in order to solve the acoustic challenges each office space is facing. Therefore, whether an organization is utilizing acoustic panels, room dividers, or acoustic lighting, there is a suitable solution for all office spaces to increase the productivity and well being of their employees, and overall impact on the organization.
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