5 Factors That Lower Productivity in Office Environments – How Acoustics Can Affect Office Productivity

office environment

Whether you are in a corporate office or your home office, I think we can all agree that loud noises and distractions can decrease productivity and make it harder to concentrate. If you are having a hard time getting work done, check out these 5 factors that can affect productivity in office environments.

If your office is located in your house, see our Top Ways to Soundproof Your Home Office.

5 Reasons for Low Office Productivity

  1. Office Lighting Too Bright or Dim

Is the lighting too dim or too bright? If the lighting is too low you could start to get sleepy while trying to get work done. If the lighting is too bright, it could start giving you a headache. Make sure you have the proper lighting in your office space. Consider purchasing lamps from IKEA or Target if you need more lighting in your work space.

  1. Distractions from Smartphones

Nowadays nearly everyone has a social media account that they check several times a day. In order to be more productive, try setting a time period that you will go without checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, your Gmail, or surfing the internet. It is more productive to devote complete focus to your work for about 45 minutes and then take a short break than it is to go all day with distractions.

Many newer smartphones have timers you can set to go off when you’ve used your allotted amount of screen time. Although you can still use your phone and other apps once the alert comes up, it’s a good reminder to know how much time you’ve actually spent on your phone during the work day.

Harvard Business Review has written a detailed piece on how to improve focus in a loud, distracted office space.

  1. Too Much Background Noise and Poor Office Acoustics

Are you the type of person that likes a little background noise or do you need complete silence to concentrate? If you like a quieter environment, try soundproofing your office with the AcoustiCurtainTM and AcoustiDoorTM to keep out outside noises.

The AcoustiDoor is our favorite for home office soundproofing because it rolls right over the door and seals around it, blocking out 60%-90% of outside noise.

office acoustics

Larger, more open office spaces will produce of lot of echo and reverberation especially if there isn’t a lot of absorptive materials in the space.

For large, open office environments, it would be best to install sound absorbing acoustic panels to reduce excess sound echo and reverberation. This would be especially useful if you worked in an office where people made a lot of phone calls or had a lot of conversations that are loud enough to be distracting.

If even just every day office noises are extremely distracting to you, try putting a white noise machine in your area to mask those sounds.

  1. Background Music in Office Environments

If you’re like me you like to have some music playing while you do your work, but some people prefer silence while they work. If someone in your office is playing their music out loud, just nicely ask them if they could wear some headphones. As long as you’re nice about it and explain that it’s distracting to you, then they should understand.

If you are the type of person who likes a little background noise, try playing light music while working. Have it at a volume that keeps your mind alert but also lets you focus on the task at hand. I always use Spotify for my music listening needs because it has such a large selection of playlists for every mood.

  1. Poor Office Space Ergonomics

Proper office ergonomics just means that you’re in the most comfortable positions while working that won’t cause any strain on your body. If you’re not comfortable and you’re always adjusting then you might not be as productive as you could be. For example, your chair should be at a height that allows your elbows to rest at a right angle on your desk. Also, your monitor should be at eye level so that you’re not craning your neck to look at the screen.

Over time, proper office ergonomics will help increase your productivity because you’ll be comfortable and won’t be straining. This will also help you to avoid any future issues, such as bad posture from constantly looking down at your screen.

How Acoustics Affect Productivity in Office Environments

Of the 5 items listed above, the top reason for poor productivity in offices is typically poor office acoustics. For example, if there is excess echo or too much background noise in an office, this can make it difficult for employees concentrate. However, no one solution will solve both of those problems, if there is echo and/or background noise in an office, these take two different solutions.

Too much echo in an office can be caused by the combination of two things – a lot of hard surfaces such as drywall, tile ceilings, glass walls and more, along with people on phone calls or involved in conversations. When people talk, the sound will bounce off the walls, creating an unpleasant echo, so not only are you hearing what people are saying, you’re hearing the echo too. As stated above, if there is echo in an office space, making it too noisy, acoustic wall panels can be installed to absorb the sound waves and reduce echo.

However, if the cause for distraction is being able to hear background conversations and phone calls in an open or closed office, installing just sound absorbing panels won’t do the trick. While they’ll eliminate the echo from people talking, you’ll still be able to hear them talking. Consider a commercial white noise machine to prevent distractions in the office and increase productivity (while also improving office acoustics). The white noise helps to raise the background noise level, so you can’t hear the background conversations.

Increasing Productivity in Office Environments

Depending on what type of office environment you work in, you could be facing a lot of distractions that are lowering your productivity. Try following some of these tips based on what environmental factors are most distracting to you. Hopefully some of these tips will help you to maximize your productivity while you work!