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Noise Annoys: Office Distractions and How To Fix Them

Posted by Annelise Fasnacht on May 21, 2019 9:05:03 AM

An open office is supposed to bring your employees together to form a buzzing little hive of activity and innovation. Tear down those walls! Let the ideas flow! It’s time for interdepartmental collaboration! Right? Sure. But it turns out that busy buzzing might be backfiring for some organizations.

The newly announced Poly (the merger of Plantronics and Polycom) recently sponsored a global survey of 5,150 employees in US, Canada, Spain, UK, China, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, India and Japan to determine how and why distractions in the workplace are affecting office employees. The study targeted people who work a minimum of three days a week in office environments of varying sizes.

Ninety percent of respondents said they get frustrated by distractions when they are on phone or video calls. Seventy-six percent said their biggest distraction is a co-worker talking too loudly on a phone, while sixty-five percent found co-workers talking nearby to be a distracting office noise.

Just over half of the employees surveyed said that distractions make it difficult to hear or be heard on calls. Forty-eight percent said distractions seriously impact their ability to focus.

The survey also found that there is a generational shift happening in the workplace. More than half of the Gen Z respondents said they are actually more productive when working around noise or gabbing with others. Sixty percent of Baby Boomers said they are most productive when it’s quiet.

So noise isn’t necessarily the problem. Not for everyone, at least. What we’re seeing here is a demand for flexibility in working environments. Open offices will statistically work great for younger employees, while the wizened masters will likely benefit from traditional working environments where they can hear themselves think.

"When you consider how many different work styles and different generations are thrown together in one place, it's no wonder that almost everyone reports being distracted at work," said Amy Barzdukas, CMO and Executive Vice President of Poly. "It's equally clear that the right mix of technology and environment can reduce distraction and improve productivity – and that is what employees are asking for."

So what can be done?

First and foremost: give your employees a variety of work space options. Huddle rooms should be at the top of your list. From employees who need absolute quiet for an important conference call to smaller teams requiring a more intimate environment, everyone in your office will be able to take advantage of these oases of calm.

In addition to quiet spaces, you should also consider investing in conferencing solutions that protect your conversations from unwanted noise. Poly has been a leader for noise blocking solutions, with patented Acoustic Fence technology that removes background noise like talkative co-workers, humming traffic, clanking air conditioners and grinding copy machines. 

Learn more about Poly and other room solutions that might make your offices more productive. Contact us with any questions. We will have one of our experts get back to you as soon as possible. Use our Advanced Search tool to find anything else you’re looking for.



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