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Study shows that noise affects work efficiency and drops productivity

A person doesn’t notice because noise hurts the ability to think, not the effort.

man closing his ear

The problem with the noise:

Noise is way worse than you might think. You overlook that work efficiency drops when the workplace is noisy because putting a lot of effort into your work seems productive, despite your work’s efficiency. The problem is that workplaces are surrounded by different noises, which is hard to prevent. Even remote workers face this problem. Their workplace depends on their personally made working environment; however, it’s rarely a silent workplace.

How does noise drop our efficiency?

One of the most read papers about how noise impacts productivity was written in 2006 by Jessica Errett, Erica E. Bowden, Marc Choiniere, and Lily M. Wang. They examined that there is a relationship between noise and productivity. The main goal of their research is to find if noise can hurt a person’s ability to think and decrease the level of efficiency. This study was completed at the “Indoor Environment Lab” at the University of Nebraska.

The researchers analyzed the link between noise and its impact on productivity. There were 38 total hours of testing in the lab over multiple days, were five males and five females participated in this study. Researchers exposed them to several background noise conditions over 20, 40, 80, and 240-minute trials. During the trials, subjects completed various performance tasks, and participants answered questions about their perception of the noise, the thermal environment, and various other factors.

The result of the research shows that noise has a negative impact on work productivity. Participants were most frustrated and annoyed when exposed to background noise such as heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning in their workplaces.

See the paper here or download the PDF →

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