- Leroy Acousti
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH NOISE?
Everything is relative right? What might be too much noise to one person could be completely tolerable to another right? Well verywellmind.com states: "Most of us may think of loud assembly lines or construction sites when we think of noise pollution in the workplace, and while these examples definitely apply, regular offices are not immune. With more people packed into busy office spaces, office noise is a common complaint. Co-workers who talk, drum their fingers on the desk or offer other distracting noises can decrease the productivity of those around them without realizing it."
WHAT TOO MUCH NOISE LOOKS LIKE
Jeremy Luscombe, marketing manager at Resonics, says: “The most distractive noise to the human ear is conversational noise. Conversations force us to concentrate on the content and meaning of what is being said, as opposed to noise without meaning – such as a fan whirring or a printer humming. This leads to a reduction in brain activity and can disrupt attention and focus.” In fact, one study found that workers lost as much as 86 minutes a day due to noise distractions.
Humans have bandwidth for roughly 1.6 human conversations simultaneously. So if you’re hearing somebody’s conversation, then that’s taking up 1 of your 1.6. Even if you don’t want to listen to it, you can’t stop it because you have no earlids! And that means you’ve just .6 left to listen to your own inner voice on the task at hand.
DO EMPLOYEES REALLY EVEN NOTICE?
Research by Kim and de Dear at the University of Sydney revealed that 30 per cent of workers in cubicles and around 25 per cent in partition-less offices were unhappy with noise levels at work.
Loud noise has become one of the greatest irritants at work. One study showed that 99% of employees reported that their concentration was impaired by various types of office noise, especially telephones left ringing at vacant desks and people talking in the background. (Researchers also found no evidence that people become used to these sounds over time.) According to another study, 68% of those surveyed become frustrated when sound levels creep just above normal conversation, and they also reported increased fatigue and difficulty in concentrating.
HOW NOISE AFFECTS EMPLOYEES
Productivity: We all know that noise can be distracting, and research proves this. One study examined children exposed to airport noise and found that their reading ability and long-term memory was impaired. Those working in noisy office environments have also been found to be less cognitively motivated, and to have higher stress levels, according to a Cornell University study.
Health: Perhaps the most serious problem created by sound pollution is the impact it has on our health. Because sound pollution can trigger the body’s stress response, one of its major health effects is chronic stress and the high levels of stress hormones that go with it. As a result, noise pollution has also been linked with health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. It’s also been linked with musculoskeletal problems, as a Cornell University study on office noise found that those working in noisy office environments can also be less likely to ergonomically adjust their workstations for comfort, which can contribute to physical problems. Noise pollution can also impact sleep quality by preventing sleep and disrupting sleep cycles. And, perhaps most significantly, because chronic stress can lower your immunity to all disease, noise pollution is a general threat to health and wellness.
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