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Psychoacoustics in the office: How to improve the impact of noise on the psyche of employees

Psychoacoustics in the office: How to improve the impact of noise on the psyche of employees

From thunder strikes to crying babies. Sounds and sound waves have different physical, physiological, and psychological effects on people. Spatial-acoustic design therefore not only deals with the measurement of the noise level, but the purpose is also followed and everything is set in such a way that a satisfactory sound environment is ensured for the users in the given room, whether for work, learning, or treatment.

The problem of noise is not new. As early as the time of the Sumerians (3500-1750 BC), tales were told of the god Enlil, who was so irritated by the sound of an overcrowded city that he flooded it with water to drown out the disturbing noise. Fortunately, today we have other ways to combat noise. However, noise is still one of the main reasons for dissatisfaction, stress, and loss of productivity.

Noise in the office causes a long-term feeling of stress

The psychological impact of noise is more often noticed in rooms where people stay for a long time, such as offices. Noise causes increased stress levels and reduce performance. For employees working on cognitively demanding tasks, noise is particularly distracting and frustrating. There is even evidence that noise stress affects performance hours after noise exposure.

Factors that affect the perception of noise, and thus work performance

  1. Nature of work

Individuals and teams typically perform several work activities throughout the day but generally have only one work environment. You should consider not only soundproofing the room but also creating more rooms for different types of work, thereby psychologically helping to change the environment from time to time. For example: create a small soundproof room for phone calls. 

2. Noise context

The perception of noise is directly influenced by the relationship to the noise source. In general, we are less disturbed by sound sources that we understand and are comfortable with. These can be conversations that are relevant to the workgroup or conversations between close colleagues. However, if there are many people in the room, even pleasant sounds can create noise. Therefore, adjust the soundproofing to the number of employees. Complete silence may not be pleasant. 

3. Control over the sound

It is crucial for employees' well-being that they feel they can control their sound environment. However, in many cases, it is not recommended to leave the fight with noise only to the employees. Especially not in large office spaces. People who need noise reduction often tend to get confrontational. Noise irritation can be a serious occupational problem. In addition to soundproofing the office, provide employees with individual soundproofing equipment - for example, headphones.  

4. Personality and temperament

There is a lot of evidence that the most productive teams have a rich mix of personality types. Nevertheless, most workplaces are more suitable for extroverted types due to the prevalence of open office spaces. Psychological profiling is often used to determine whether a person has the right personality and attitude to join an organization or team, but it can also be used to match people who prefer and perform better in certain acoustic environments. An even better opportunity is to create suitable spaces for different personality types and allow employees to choose where they want to work.

Contact us for a professional consultation. We will help you create a pleasant working environment for your employees and increase their work performance and overall well-being.

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