Office Noise, Distractions, Productivity

A study of many post-occupancy surveys of office buildings by the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California @ Berkeley, gives details of noise sources in offices that cause occupant dissatisfaction. These are people talking on the phone, people overhearing private conversations, people talking in surrounding offices, people talking in the corridor, telephones ringing, and office equipment.

It’s not about the noisy office equipment like printers or the building mechanical systems like the heating/cooling, it’s about the people themselves! People talking – either directly or by phone. It’s about unintended overheard speech. Now, what are the consequences of these speech-related disruptions on occupant productivity?

A study from UC @ Irvine was quoted by the Internet Marketing Association follows: “People spend an average of 11 minutes on a project before they’re interrupted. It takes them on average 25 minutes to get back to the point they were at before a distraction.” This means that workers are spending twice as much time recovering from distractions than on actually working productively.