Cutting Through the Noise: The Impact of Sound Distraction in the Workplace

Workplace design is a multi-faceted and complex issue. One of the most overlooked facets is workplace acoustics. This is an unfortunate truth since this feature of the work environment has ramifications beyond the obvious.

For example, 70% of workers in open quarters report that the biggest distraction is co-worker conversation. We’ve all been there. You’re hard at work on a project, making tremendous progress, and then a nearby conversation interrupts your thought processes—all at once, the magic is gone. Once distracted, regrouping is a real challenge. In fact, a recent study by the Wall Street Journal revealed that after being distracted in performing a task, it takes 23 minutes for the average worker to get back to the level of focus in which he was previously engaged. Losing concentration as few as three times per day, then, equates to over an hour of lost productivity.

Conversation, keyboard clicks, computer beeps, printer whirs—these are all composed of energy. This energy moves away from the source and interacts with every surface it encounters, creating a web of noise. On the bright side, there are a few solutions that can minimize the cacophony. Space arrangement can have an impact, for example. Open space carries even the softest sound, so the juxtaposition of workers and office equipment can change the auditory quality of a room. Also, the use of sound masking systems that reduce unwanted noise by up to 15% can make a positive difference.

In addition, sound absorbing materials reduce the ricochet of distracting sound. A high ceiling composed of acoustical tile absorbs a great deal of clamor. However, these tiles are not always appropriate, as in areas with loud HVAC components or above certain offices or conference rooms. Also, some builders and clients find them lacking in aesthetic appeal. In these and other situations, the installation of acoustic panels is an excellent option. By placing acoustical panels in or near areas of the noise epicenter, sound levels can be reduced to the benefit of the productive workers functioning in the space. Highly absorptive dividers created from acoustic panels are also very effective. A hanging cloud of material above a talkative group is beneficial, as is placement on nearby walls.

There is currently an explosion of research and innovation in acoustics, and solutions are advancing, creating hope for a more productive and satisfied workforce. Welformed, a division of Genesis Products, is also a catalyst for change. We are taking the best practices of a 30-year-old industry and applying them in innovative ways to lower the barrier of entry and overcome fundamental issues and inefficiencies. As manufacturers and suppliers of non-woven materials, we utilize proven manufacturing methods to produce fully-finished parts, ready for installation. As the building industry evolves, we evolve as well with a goal of meeting every client need.

Learn more about Welformed and our offering today!