Workplace noise is a major source of stress for employees.

A new global study by Interface, in association with Radius, found that 69 per cent of employees believe noise negatively impacts their ability to concentrate, innovate and be productive.

The study polled 2,000 adult workers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia on how workplace noise impacted their ability to do their jobs effectively and what distracted them most. Top offenders included employee conversations, phone conversations, ringing phones and the sound of people walking.

Workplace design and layout can be factors in noise-related distractions. To that end, less than one-third of survey respondents said they have access to private spaces to make phone calls or engage in conversations. Moreover, a majority of employees who work at offices with wood, ceramic tile and concrete flooring say it is noisy at their offices compared to those who work in offices with carpeting. 

As a result, 16 per cent of employees choose to work remotely due to unsolved noise issues.

“When creating workspaces, designers are often asked to apply planning methodologies or specify products based on design trends rather than the specific operating needs of a business. But the best designs are those rooted in solutions specific to company culture, environmental aspirations and respect for individual user choice,” said Chip DeGrace, vice-president of workplace applications, Interface. “This study confirms the importance of creating a productive workspace that accommodates a variety of work styles and preferences.” 

Noise is a natural part of any working environment but, as the study indicates, workplace design, office layouts and even environmental materials can play a role in muting excessive distractions.