The modern office is notorious for the lack of speech privacy, resulting in an increasing case of disengaged employees which affects overall workplace productivity. Employees and businesses alike are now rethinking the benefits of open plan offices.
In June 2017, the company behind blogging platform WordPress announced it was leaving its San Francisco office. All employees would be working from home (or coffee shops, or wherever they want to work) full time.
People were doing it anyway. In her opinion piece for Bloomberg, Virginia Postrel shares her visit to the Automattic, the WordPress offices. Only one person was there, and even that person only comes in two or three times a week. On any given day, only about 5 people come into the modern, high-ceilinged 14,250-square-foot office.
The office design of the past and present
Postrel further illustrates how the open office design harks back to the beginning of the 20th century, “workers sitting cheek by jowl” at shared desks. People had their heads down, they had work to do: repetitive, routine, and with requirements or quotas. A certain number of invoices have to be finished, a set number of orders sent, template letters answered.
Later, the clack, rattle, swoosh of typewriters and the fingers pounding on them became a “background rumble” that muted any distracting noise. Around the same time, consumerism and advertising boomed, and the open office had a new face: no longer for doing routine work, but for the exchange of ideas. This collaboration and knowledge sharing continues today.
But now with silent computers, every spoken word carries to your neighbor and even other tables. “Background noises” like cars and machines are easy to tune out. But not speech. Lack of speech privacy distracts employees and it takes them an average of 5 minutes to get back on task. Modern office design also have sprawling spaces, soaring ceilings and the favored industrial or shabby look of exposed stone and metal surfaces.
All of which combine to create an acoustic nightmare.
If you want your workers at the office, solve noise
Noise and overhearing their colleagues is the greatest issue of dissatisfaction for staff, especially for knowledge workers–creatives–who need focus to be productive. Editorial consultant Jeremy Lott says, “What I do requires concentration, and offices provide mostly distractions.”
As Postrel notes, “If you want knowledge workers to report to the office, balance sociability and quiet. Make it easy for them talk to each other — without interrupting their next door neighbor’s train of thought. And give them a place where they can hear themselves think.”
The ABCs of speech privacy strike the balance
Yahoo, IBM and other companies which phased out remote work want the results and benefits that come from the office fostering a sense of community, knowledge sharing and instant brainstorming.
Absorbing, Blocking and Covering noise solve the distraction problem in today’s modern workplaces without losing the collaboration aspect and cost-efficiency of open offices. Acoustic panels and sound masking work together to impede the radius of distraction.
Interruptions, error rates, and stress levels go down. So does absenteeism. Productivity goes up. Your bottom line sees better numbers.
VoiceArrest™ sound masking uses patented, exclusive technology that adapts to noise levels: blending into the office background unnoticed and covering speech whether the office is currently quiet or loud, perfectly and automatically balanced in both frequency and volume.
EcoPrivacy Acoustic™ panels don’t need structural redesign to be set up. Freestanding and wall-mounted panels easily install in your office design’s existing layouts and spaces, functional art that add energy and mood to empty walls or sprawling space, and contribute to noise absorption and blocking.
Without having to worry about confidentiality or disturbing others, your employees can freely communicate when working together, or stay focused when working alone.
The office is meant for productivity, although the unpredictability of the workplace environment can create barriers for productivity because of distractions. That doesn’t have to be the case.
Find out more about speech privacy solutions for your environment.