The open office makes everyone visible and therefore accountable to each other. Yet, while social media use, gaming, and personal internet browsing are eliminated, other productivity killers take their place.
In a survey among employers, CareerBuilder found the top 10 productivity killers at work, and 6 of them pertain to noise and overheard speech.
1) Cell phone/texting: Visibility solves this. No one likes to be seen spending too much time on their phones.
2) Gossip: Employees either gossip on instant messaging or, more often, at their desks while working. Those who hear are distracted and either join in or are incensed at the interruption.
3) Non-work-related media use: Employees are distracted by searching or using the internet for non-work-related activities.
4) Social media: Many companies have solved social media distractions by blocking certain sites on their network.
5) Snack breaks or smoke breaks: Some employees usually take snack breaks together… and talk.
6) Noisy co-workers: A team collaborating can be noisier than they realize.
7) Meetings: Meetings can often be reduced to a few emails. But more than eating time, meetings are often overheard through walls. They are much more of a distraction when conducted in the open office.
8) Email: Many employees are now trained–or train themselves– on efficient email handling, so this becomes less of a distraction.
9) Co-workers dropping by: Interruptions by colleagues, especially superiors, are distracting. The more senior the colleague, the greater the distraction.
10) Co-workers putting calls on speakerphone: Mini-meetings, with one or more persons at the end of the line, continue to cause distractions.
All six speech-related productivity killers are often the unsolved elements employees just grit their teeth and soldier through.
Office machinery, street noise, hundreds of people’s conversations cause a decrease in performance, but we learn to tune them out. Muffling them even just the smallest way already improves productivity.
But intermittent speech– overheard gossip, neighboring conversations on the phone, co-workers a little enthusiastic in their collaboration– is the most common sounds in an office and affects employee performance the most.
The importance of speech privacy for productivity in the workplace
Achieving speech privacy — a measurable element in any work environment, from small offices and big corporations to hospitals and SCIFs — solves the distracting powers of speech. Simply put, speech privacy means not overhearing and not being overheard.
Overheard speech contributes to error rates, frustration with lowered productivity, employee disengagement, absenteeism and turnover, and ultimately, negatively affects company bottom lines.
White noise machines adds to the noise and inhibits intelligibility to the point of hindering conversation.
But superior, adaptive sound masking calibrates to the current noise levels, covers it up and prevents speech from carrying far. Side by side collaboration won’t be affected and won’t disturb other teams in the same space.
EcoPrivacy Acoustic™ panels can also restore productivity and collaboration by attractively partitioning off work zones and team areas. Add intelligent sound masking to solve the way sound–especially talk– travels. Eliminate stress among your employees, and protect confidential HR information and executive discussions into the bargain.
You don’t have to dismantle your existing office design. EcoPrivacy Acoustic™ panels are flexible, functional art and VoiceArrest™ sound masking system adapts to every unique work environment with patented, exclusive technology that adjusts to minute noise levels, turning it into a pleasant background everyone can tune out without deafening everyone and adding to stress instead of reducing it.
See the success stories of other open offices, and compare your privacy options at Speech Privacy Systems.