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Noise Annoys

I often hear noise being described as ‘unwanted sound’. As someone who grew up listening to a lot of punk music, I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as that. Sitting upstairs in my bedroom, I was frequently yelled at to turn off the noise noise noise, stop kicking up a racket, etc. This stuff wasn’t (and still isn’t) unwanted to me, and I readily accept it’s not everyone’s idea of good music.

Fortunately for you – I usually enjoy my music when I’m working alone, or with headphones on – so it needn’t trouble you, but what about the noise that’s not so easy to avoid? How does that affect you, particularly when you’re trying to work?

I met Paige Hodsman at the Workplace Trends conference last year. Paige works for Ecophon who specialise in acoustic solutions to improve the working environment, and we got to talking about how noise and sound affects your ability to be creative at work. After the event our conversation continued, and continued, until we decided to offer up an interactive workshop for people, to explore and experience how changes in the environment affect our ability and desire to be creative. That workshop is called The Art of Sound, and it takes place in Central London on June 7th. Would you like to come and take part? You can book a place here. It won’t cost you any money, and we’ll provide lunch and all the materials you’ll need. It would be lovely to see you.

Purely by chance, since Paige and I decided to run this session, I have come into contact with Chris Moriarty from Leesman, a company which gathers and shares all kinds of interesting data to help people understand their workplace performance. Chris has kindly shared some data with me which shows the extent to which people are concerned by noise at work, and how it impacts creative thinking and a host of other things besides. I’ve not had the data for long, and I can already see that of the 160,000 people who have currently responded to the Leesman Index survey, just over three quarters of them indicate that noise levels at work are important to them.

On average across the Index only 55.8% of people agree that the workplace enables them to be productive. However, when you look at those that have indicated that noise levels are important and they are happy with them, you see that number rise to 82.2% against those that are dissatisfied with noise down at 32.7%. A 49.5 percentage points difference.
Noise is also impacting enjoyment, this time there’s a 37.8 percentage points difference (78.2% satisfied vs 40.3% dissatisfied). These are big gaps. If we are to improve the workplace and make it more conducive to creative, and enjoyable working, then understanding this stuff is important, for people in workplace design and implementation, and for HR people too.

I can also see that noise is affecting many of the tasks we need to perform at work, and I’ll keep digging through what Chris has provided and share some more details at the event on June 7th. I hope to see you there, and until then, I’ll leave you with The Buzzcocks doing what they do best.

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