When it was first conceived in 1950, it was mainly for collaboration and idea exchange among employees. But there’s a trade-off: noise and stress.
Modern and green offices favor the open layout for energy conservation. Big windows can light up a whole floor, and pleasant views, heat and air are shared unimpeded for everyone’s comfort.
Many workers in older age groups now embrace the open office and millennials certainly like open offices for the camaraderie. Colleagues are a second set of friends, not people they only interact with from 9 to 5.
But no matter the workers’ age bracket, everyone suffers from the physical and psychological effects of the open office, and stress reduction is now top-of-mind in office design and redesigns.
The causes of stress in the open office
Open offices remove the essential psychological privacy that four walls offer, and a study shows that a sense of privacy boosts job performance. Millennials, while more social and not averse to the lack of walls, dislike laughter, overheard conversations and the inability to control their work environment, as much as their older peers.
The goal for collaboration and exchange of ideas is also overturned, with constant interruption breeding dissatisfaction and resentment among neighbors, as looming deadlines are made even nastier by ruined focus and concentration. Millennials are famous for being multi-taskers, but as a result, are more vulnerable to distractions, taking as much as 5 minutes to get back on task after being disturbed. This shows up in their work, and consequently, in the company’s bottom-lines.
The most problematic source of stress in open offices remain unsolved: noise.
Stress reduction means noise reduction
In Denmark, a study of 2400 employees found that as the number of people in an open office increased, so did the number of people who took sick leave. It’s the noise that disturbs us the most. Almost 50% of employees working in a completely open office floorplan, and almost 60% of them in cubicles with low walls, are dissatisfied with their sound privacy, according to a study from the University of Sydney.
Employees are besieged by noise: daily office commotion, office equipment running, interruption from colleagues (especially superiors), overheard conversations and meetings, phones ringing and being answered, notification alerts from various devices and programs, song lyrics from music playing.
A good working environment for stress reduction and prevention begins with noise absorption, blocking and covering, the ABC’s of speech privacy. Acoustic panels and ceiling tiles absorb, higher cubicle walls block, and high-quality sound masking technology that adapts to noise levels effectively covers and fills in the wavelengths of noise, making it much less distinct and distracting.
Concentration and focus are improved, reducing frustration and error rates, and workers are able to have a break, take deep breaths or meditate for a few minutes to recharge and de-stress.
Better office environment with panels and sound masking
VoiceArrest™ patented exclusive sound masking technology and EcoPrivacy Acoustic™ Panels provide effective acoustic solutions for every office environment and restore the sense of privacy for your employees. Structural redesign is unnecessary. EcoPrivacy Acoustic™ panels are easily installed free-standing or on walls as functional art, improving visual privacy and contributing to noise absorption and blocking.
Together VoiceArrest™ adaptive sound masking, they create the most cost-effective way to achieve a pleasant and efficient noise control, leading to stress reduction at the workplace.
Contact Speech Privacy Systems for solutions for your workspace.