Background noise in open-plan offices can reduce productivity by as much as 66%!
Late last year, I delivered a talk for Ovum Group on Imagining the future Intranet. Looking at how interactions with Internet sites have changed thanks to social media and emerging trends such as touch and speech-enabled interfaces.
One of the closing observations was a look at physical issues that affect productivity. Specifically, the noise and interruptions of open-plan offices. I played a snippet from a TED Talk by Julian Treasure who noted that the noise in open-plan offices can reduce productivity by as much as 66%! And that the simplest trick to offset this loss was to put on a pair of headphones and play sounds from nature.
Fast-forward to last month and a visit to my GP who had a digital radio on his desk playing sounds from nature. I asked him about it and he was trying an experiment, to create a more relaxing consultation environment. He mentioned that it was a YouTube video, a one hour recording. And here it is. Sooo, having a stressful day? Noisy open-plan environment to cope with? Put on the headphones and press play…