While noise in the office is far from the noise pollution generated by mining or construction sites, it can be as intense as the high-volume sound of a TV set. Considering the amount on intellectually engaging activities required from office workers, it is obvious that noise can be a real problem.
Noise in the Office – Is It a Common Problem?
The major issue with noise in the officeis its fluctuation as it is generated by a range of sources – including equipment, ringtones, outside traffic, and conversations, making it difficult to adjust to the environment.
Moreover, conversations tend to be the most bothering out of the entire scope of noises. Their informational content is extremely difficult for the human brain to ignore while it occupies more than half of the bandwidth of hearing capacities*.
As the level of noise increases, people have to raise their voices to communicate, creating the so-called Lombard effect** and aggravating the noise even more.
Office Acoustics – How to Take Care of It in the Best Way?
It is way easier to create desirableacoustics for office areas at the designing stage, as it requires construction decisions such as using soft floor surfaces, covering ceilings and walls with sound-absorbing materials, and applying space partitioning and transparent screens. Before that, the office location should be chosen carefully, far from busy roads and railways, to minimize noise pollution.
Phone booth office units from the hushPhone series can be a great solution for workplaces that either might be too complex to redesign to improve office acoustics or were created with noise reduction in mind at the very beginning.
Acceptable noise levels in the office – what are the standards?
Unfortunately, despite the disturbance of noise pollution in the office environment, many countries do not have any strict standards to protect office workers. The possible reason for it might be the maximum level of noise in the office, which is usually well below 60 decibels (dB). In contrast, governmental standards usually focus on noise limits regarding potential physical harm. For instance, the daily or weekly noise exposure limit in the USA is 87 dB***.
When it comes to the office environment, where such standards are irrelevant, many governments have specified guidelines for noise reduction. Yet, some countries have already recognized the seriousness of office noise pollution. Germany, which has set the maximum noise limit to 55 dB for the spaces used for cognitively demanding work, is one example.
Silence in the office – how does it affect work efficiency?
Challenging tasks, creative projects, audio and video calls require maximum focus, which cannot be sustained without proper office acoustics. While quiet work areas help to minimize distractions, they effectively reduce anxiety and stress of employees and managers who do not have to struggle with typical office chaos.