Business Insurance Insights: Tackling noisy offices

Noise is a common employee complaint when working in corporate office settings, especially open-plan offices. According to a poll by Iris Clarity, 79% of workers would like their working space quieter than it is currently.

With too many audible distractions, employees can become frustrated and experience lower job satisfaction. Furthermore, such distractions can make it harder to focus, affecting employee productivity.

Fortunately, there are ways to control workplace noise. Consider these tips:

  • Install noise-friendly flooring and furniture. Hard surfaces such as wood and ceramic can be extremely unforgiving in noisy environments, as they can amplify sound. Consider carpet or vinyl flooring solutions instead. Additionally, wall partitions, filing cabinets and large high-backed sofas can positively impact the acoustics of an open-plan office. Consider the clever placing of screens and appropriate furniture to help deflect and break up sound.
  • Examine ways to improve office layout. A change in layout could help reduce current noise levels. For example, consider relocating loud office equipment—such as photocopiers and printers—away from employees, ideally in a separate room. Additionally, well-placed large indoor plants and shrubs can be effective in absorbing sound.
  • Create a dedicated quiet space. While empty conference rooms make a great makeshift peaceful workspace, consider incorporating dedicated quiet areas if there’s enough capacity. Although enclosed rooms are ideal, soundproof booths and pods can also be utilised for this purpose. Likewise, don’t forget to include dedicated noisy areas. Whether it’s a team meeting, training session or somewhere to chat to colleagues, providing a space where people can make noise will discourage them from chatting elsewhere.
  • Be flexible. Consider allowing homeworking for tasks that require focus and limited distractions. If this isn’t possible, think about offering staff noise-cancelling headphones.

"Health and safety" is about more than preventing slips and falls - increasingly it looks at employee wellbeing and workplace culture. For more advice on this area, talk to our dedicated risk management service today.