Oscar Acoustics have recently exposed an unsettling revelation: workplace noise is not just an annoyance, but a major factor in dwindling productivity among office professionals.

In a study, Oscar Acoustics surveyed 1,500 office employees nationwide and found that 81% reported their performance suffering due to high noise levels. A staggering 37% admitted that they have been delivering subpar work because of it.

74% of the respondents shared that they are more productive working from home, sparking a renewed discussion about the pros and cons of hybrid working.

Noise pollution in offices has become a key point of contention for more than a quarter of workers (27%). As the talks about hybrid work setup advance, half of the employers, according to a study by recruitment agency Monster, have shown satisfaction with flexible working arrangements. However, a year later, one-third of them have modified their views.

Further investigation into the impact of noise on productivity revealed that 52% of workers find it hard to concentrate in a noisy environment, resulting in over one-third (37%) producing inferior quality work.

When asked about their personal choice given the noise situation, 30% of staff said they opted to work from home, while 20% felt the need to change their desks to escape the noise.

Moreover, health issues arising from noise pollution have also come to light. Approximately 11% of UK office employees believe that their work environment has harmed their hearing. Disturbingly, over 20% have reported difficulties in sleeping, while almost 25% have worked beyond their contracted hours due to reduced productivity.

Persistent noise has also led to escalating tensions among colleagues. Around 7% of workers confessed to resorting to physical violence, and a fifth admitted to having lashed out at a colleague. Those most affected fell within the 34-44 year age group, with 6% even considering quitting their jobs due to workplace noise.

On the question of whether employers are taking steps to address the noise issues, only 22% of respondents felt that their concerns were being heard, while about a quarter mentioned the introduction of behavioural training to promote a quieter office atmosphere.

In light of the findings, Ben Hancock, Managing Director at Oscar Acoustics, voiced his concern: “Employers are facing real challenges navigating hybrid working expectations from employees, and with heightened discussions around increasing days in the office, these challenges will continue to mount.”

Hancock added, “Office design has shifted enormously in recent years, but our research shows acoustic performance is not always up to the required standard, leading to a negative impact on staff workflow. Businesses need to ensure their office environment enables staff to work effectively.”

He warned of the real potential of businesses losing their ability to attract and retain staff, affecting their bottom lines and endangering worker health if the noise issue is not taken seriously.

You can find more details about Oscar Acoustics’ study on workplace noise within the financial and services sector in the 2023 Whitepaper – The UK’s Productivity Pitfall.

Oscar Acoustics has been in the business of sound for over 45 years. Since its inception in 1978, the family-run business has gained a reputation for the reliability, quality, and performance of its products. The company offers an extensive range of recycled and fire-rated acoustic finishes, soundproofing ceiling systems, and thermal acoustic insulation range, making it Great Britain’s leading provider of acoustic solutions for buildings.