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Impact of noise at work revealed by survey

13 March 2019

Results from a study on the impact of noise on the wellbeing of employees were revealed at a press event in London yesterday.

UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering honorary senior lecturer Dr Nigel Oseland discussed the results of responses received by 1,000 UK-based office workers.

These showed that 52% of respondents reported being interrupted by noise at work more than five times a day, with 17% interrupted more than 10 times a day.

Noise in the workplace was also perceived as impacting negatively on the ability to complete work accurately and on time by 65%.

The issue was also seen to have had a negative impact on overall wellbeing by 44% and more than 40% reported that noise had made them feel stressed at work.

Dr Oseland also shared previous research results that showed workplace interruptions result in staff taking 15 minutes to retain their focus on average.

Workers interrupted 10 times a day could therefore be losing 150 minutes of productive time, he said.

The Noise and Wellbeing at Work 2019 survey was conducted by the Remark Group.

"Remark's research shows that noise is the biggest cause of dissatisfaction in the modern workplace, along with an associated loss of performance, increases stress and poorer wellbeing," said Dr Oseland.

He further stated that workplace design trends including open plan design and agile working included the need to address issues arising from "office noise distraction".

The challenge is to "enhance focussed work, whilst maintaining collaborative and creative environments.

"Remark's research and services contribute to providing the solution," said Dr Oseland.

Remark Group's Penelope Harrall said the intention behind open plan offices, to encourage communication between employees, raised the number of distracting workplace sounds.

Telephone ringtones, sudden bursts of laughter and phone conversations "are proven to be distracting and have profound effects on employee stress levels and wellbeing, not to mention the impact they have on loss in productivity", said Ms Harrall.

She further stated that sound masking systems, compulsory in the USA, are designed to reduce both general office noises and conversational distractions.


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