Using Sound to Eliminate Noise: A New Survey Reveals Some Startling Facts

Working with background noise

Avanta Serviced Office Group recently posted the findings of its survey exploring the effects of office noise on office productivity.

Here are some of the rather startling findings (based on 1,000 workers across the U.K.):

  • 82.5% are regularly distracted by office noise
  • Nearly half (47.5%) choose to suffer in silence
  • 31% report retreating from the office to their homes or local cafes due to excessive noise
  • Workers cite that noise environments cause productivity to decline by up to 66%

The full survey can be read on OfficingToday here.

Its implications are clear — excessive noise in today’s open plan office build outs can have a negative impact on productivity.

Not a surprise considering the trend towards open format coworking spaces and the encouragement of members to mingle and collaborate freely.

But now there are a growing number of technologies to help solve the issue.

Intelligent sound design

Related:  Avanta promotes pedal power at Hammersmith

OT has reported on the technology of ‘ambient sound’ before. Yet the concept appears to be gathering momentum as more business centers and coworking space operators continue to knock down walls and bring people in closer proximity to each other.

The latest in ambient sound technology comes from The Sound Agency, whose chairman, Julian Treasure, with five TED Talks under his belt, is gaining a reputation as a global expert.

“The sound around us has a powerful effect on our psycho-physiological state, as well as on our cognitive ability and our social behavior,” he said. “Intelligent sound design can help improve concentration, reduce fatigue and stress, and consequently create more productive working environments.”

Serious about sound

Heady words, perhaps, but business center and coworking space operators are starting to get serious about adding ambient sound technology to their centers; and not just to reduce noise.

According to Julian Treasure there is a place for ambient sound in quiet environments as well. “Noisy workspaces may need damping down to the ideal level of 45-55 dB, while very quiet spaces may need masking sound to create some privacy and reduce distraction when colleagues take calls or converse. Masking sounds are typically low density, requiring little attention, and pleasing to work in. Examples could be birdsong or gentle flowing water.”

Related:  Coworking is Getting Bigger, Better and Bolder

Will productivity increase surrounded by the tranquil sounds of a rainforest? It may be worthwhile to keep tabs on Avanta and the ‘Avanta Sound Room’ trials, currently being tested in several of its London centers.

Are you exploring the use of ambient sound in your center? Or is it simply a passing trend, making a lot of noise?

Image source: Startup Stock Photos