Noisy Offices Keep Workers at Home

Two employees laugh and have lunch while two more employees work in the background
Author: Samuel Beckingham
Updated: Feb 08, 2023
4 minutes read

According to a recent study from Oscar Acoustics, offices across the UK are struggling with hybrid working, with people affronted by office noise the most. The productivity of workers across 500 senior management employees has been hindered by off-putting sounds, and this is the same across ages 18-50 in the survey. More people are trying to switch off from the office and take advantage of working from home, where peace and quiet can reign supreme.

Hybrid working is now the norm for over ¾ of jobs, but people have serious doubts about returning to the office because of distracting clamour. The survey found that 25% of people were put off by these sounds. As reported by another survey from RingCentral, 59% of workers are more productive when working from home. Without the distracting din of office noise, people are finding they can get more done and start to enjoy their job more.

Some of the most distracting office noises were:

  • Office banter

  • Nearby video conferences

  • Audible meetings

  • Lunch at desks

  • Humming

  • Singing

  • Breathing

  • Itching

Part of the report looked at office design and how noise can be trapped or amplified in certain places. The acoustic design of offices needs to be considerate for employees to be able to do their work effectively without having to worry about distracting levels of voices or otherwise. 14% of employers had even admitted to permanently moving noisy members of staff to other areas of the building.

The whitepaper report from Oscar Acoustics highlights the need for better adapted offices for acoustics if they are to retain staff. Quiet quitting has been on the rise recently, which could be linked with excessive office noise. It refers to workers who do the absolutely minimum requirement without putting in any more time or effort than they need to. They stick to their office hours and lose the passion for their job. Where ⅓ of managers haven’t done much to address any raucous noise, it’s understandable if this is causing more people to resort to quiet quitting.

On the flip side of the coin, 58% of people in the RingCentral survey admitted that they would change jobs or industry if it gave them the option for hybrid or remote working. But while people are in favour of working from home because they feel more productive, it’s important to not lose touch with staff members. HR plays an important role in keeping contact with a split workforce, making sure that employees are happy and not out of touch with the business.

It’s also worth noting that productivity can be incredibly subjective, where one way of working won’t necessarily work for everyone. Some people would prefer a library-like environment, with no sounds from anyone, while others work well with a group dynamic, bouncing off one another. There are also those who simply prefer to be away from it all in their own space. Understanding the needs of staff members is the key to a healthy and productive workforce.