So, it’s 4pm and you still have a ton to tackle on your to-do list …. sound familiar?
Offices can be loud. Open plan offices has become “a thing” since its invention in 1904. Let’s face it, it looks great in pictures and has a kinda cool vibe to it. But it has a downside. A 2014 study by Steelcase and Ipsos found that the open plan office is deadly to productivity and focus. They’ve proved that workers lose as much as 86 minutes per day due to noise distractions.
Phones ringing, keyboards clacking, printers and copiers chugging away and the yacking of colleagues – sorry, “spontaneous collaborative input” … the hubbub can get overwhelming. Turns out that those wall-less, doorless, airy hives of activity have become a breeding ground for stress and anxiety.
The limited research, most of it done in Europe, indicates that office noise disrupts concentration, decreases productivity and chips away at good health by increasing stress. So, headphones have become the go-to survival tool for open offices. Yup, music has long been used to boost productivity in the workplace. But changes in the nature of work, office spaces and technology now have workers opting for sounds that don’t quite qualify as music.
White noise have become increasingly popular. According to Google trends, it has maintained a fairly steady, upward mobility for the last 5 years. The song “Office Air Conditioners” on Spotify has over four million plays! Turns out that white noise is the new soundtrack at work.
Here’s how it works: Research suggests that noise itself isn’t distracting, but unwanted speech noise is. And therefore, by adding a continuous low-level ambient sound to a noisy environment, one can actually make it seem quieter.
White noise is a type of noise that is produced by combining sounds of all different frequencies together and is frequently used to mask other sounds. The random spread of frequencies blocks out eternal sound, making it difficult for the hyperactive mind to fixate on. It provides a calming effect, much like mindfulness or meditation.
Think about it this way: When you’re in a room with two or three people who are talking, you can easily distinguish between their individual voices. But when you’re in a stadium with thousands of people chatting at the same time, it all sounds like a blurred roar. White noise has a similar effect.
Sure, it isn’t going to solve all your problems, but it could be a gamechanger by giving you a little more privacy, thereby increasing productivity and reducing your stress levels.
So, opt for YouTube which offers a plethora of relaxing white noise videos or find white noise apps on Google Playand iTunes. Or, if you and your colleagues are on the same wavelength, invest in a white noise machine for the office. That way you’ll block out disturbing sounds for the whole team.
Worth a try, right?
Source: theatlantic.com, bbc.com, healthassured.org, psmag.com, science.howstuffworks.com, desktime.com, hbr.org, marketplace.org
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.