Office noise leading cause of inefficiency

Research has suggested that noise from open plan offices and a lack of quiet areas at work disrupt employee productivity.
A new study by UK-based workplace design firm Unispace revealed that companies that have introduced open plan working environments believe it will enhance staff productivity. However, many overestimated the amount of time that employees need to spend in meetings and collaborating, while simultaneously underestimating the time required for tasks requiring concentration.
Unispace surveyed more than 2,000 office workers across the US, EMEA and Asia-Pacific, and it was found that distraction caused by noise was consistently rated as one of the top two problems for employees, along with a lack of quiet areas.
The three main reasons that companies set out to change their workplace was better collaboration, employee attraction and retention, and cost savings, according to the research. However, workers in professional services firms spent 66% their time in a typical working day in activities that required focus and concentration. Additionally, an average of 20% of the profession around the world rated their workplace “poor” for supporting these tasks.
Employees in banking and finance spent 60% of their time concentrating and 25% spent collaborating with others. For those in the technology sector, 55% of time was spent focusing on tasks, with 28% working with others.
The data suggests that industries may have miscalculated the value of focus-based work and its physiological impact on satisfaction and productivity. With a number of working tasks requiring concentration, the benefit of a balanced and choice-led environment lead to increased productivity.
Unispace Regional Principal Strategy for EMEA Sam Sahni said: “I would challenge the premise of thinking that open plan workplace solutions are introduced to increase workplace collaboration. I think we profoundly underestimate the issue of sound in the workplace and the disruptive impact it has on the ability to be productive during the working day.”


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