Quiet! Please!

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Posted by:
Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services

Why aren’t open offices as productive as they could be?

The main culprit is noise.

Great article by Maria Konnikova in The New Yorker (1/7/14)

“In laboratory settings, noise has been repeatedly tied to reduced cognitive performance. The psychologist Nick Perham, who studies the effect of sound on how we think, has found that office commotion impairs workers’ ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic.”

And, blocking out the noise with earphones and music is not the answer.  That, too, interferes with mental acuity.

As many of us working virtually in coffee shops and public places, the same problem applies.  Between public announcements, piped-in music and bad acoustics, we are fighting a losing battle.

I thought noise-cancelling earphones were the answer, but apparently not.

The answer is for office planners and the people who want us to visit their places and buy their stuff (e.g. coffee) to make these environments worker-friendly. That means making them quieter.  Please!

One thought on “Quiet! Please!

  1. Li Sun

    I don’t subscribe to The New Yorker but thank you for blogging about this. There does not seem to be a lot of research-backed evidence that open offices result in higher overall work productivity. It is clear though that open offices are less expensive compared to more traditional layouts, so they’re probably here to stay. Someone out there is going to make a fortune selling the first portable + open office-compatible bubble/cubicle apparatus.


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