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Noise in the office distracting employees? Here’s how HR can help

Now that offices have re-opened in the UK, there’s more opportunity for workers to divide their working day between home and HQ. In fact, research found that 54% of office workers intend to break up their time evenly between office and home. After all, nothing can beat the banter of the office and heading to lunch with colleagues.

But the reality is that we're used to the peace and quiet of working at home, which isn’t the case in a busy office environment. Colleagues will be talking about tasks of the day, hosting meetings, phones will be ringing, and webinars playing at high volume. There are many noises that workers must tune out to maintain productivity.

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The impact on productivity  

The modern office is typically a shared space. Because of this, it can be very difficult for workers to concentrate on their day-to-day tasks.

No one is disputing those offices have always been noisy environments, but the shift to remote work has meant that noise tolerance levels have declined.

Our research shows that more than half (56%) of office workers are concerned that noise levels in the office will make them less productive; 60% think they’ll get fed up if their noisy co-workers break their concentration, and 42% worry that they’ll become prone to noise rage if their colleagues are too loud.

This could lead to a volatile and unproductive environment if not addressed by HR, particularly if hot desking is in place and office workers aren’t familiar with the people around them.

To tackle the challenge of noise impacting employees, there are three distinct workplace personas that HR should be aware of.

These include the Moocher – the people that like to linger for conversations with their colleagues; the Stomper – those that stomp around the office during their work calls; the Chatters – the individuals who like to converse with their colleagues throughout the working day.

By identifying the attributes associated with each persona, HR can match workstyles and employee behaviours to devices that will increase productivity, while minimising the volume of noise.

Ultimately, the goal should be for HR to reduce anxiety and friction in the workplace while maximising productivity and focus. To do this, it’s vital to provide employees with the right equipment to drown out any unwanted, distracting sounds.


Redesigning the office for everyone 

At the same time, organisations need to redesign their physical offices to support new ways of working. By understanding how employees like to work, organisations can design spaces to suit these needs.

Our research shows that 77% of organisations are planning to redesign the office to create more open and collaboration spaces, while also creating ‘quiet zones’ and huddle spaces.

By connecting people, spaces and technology, organisations make the office experience a welcoming one, reducing distractions and ensuring employees sound their best no matter where they are located.


Judith Hogan is senior director EMEA acceleration sales at Poly