According to a study done at Cornell University, it was determined that most workers feel most comfortable, and the least distracted, when an office was at a decibel level between 48-52 dB. An average decibel level of more than 65 dB was considered to be disruptive by a majority of office workers. While 65 dB might seem like a very high amount of noise, the list below will show just how little noise it takes to go from tolerable to distracting, and when work starts becoming less and less productive.
Average Noise Levels
All noises listed are measured in decibels.
- 30 dB – soft whisper
- 50 dB – rainfall
- 50 dB – refrigerator
- 60 dB – normal conversation
- 70 dB – freeway traffic
- 80 dB – ringing telephone
- 100 dB – factory machinery
- 117 dB – stadium during a football game
- 140dB – airplane taking off
While your office probably isn’t as loud as a football stadium, looking at the list above makes it pretty obvious how quickly a work environment can become distracting. Even a few normal conversations going on at once while a phone rings is enough to be annoying to most people. And when people are annoyed they stop being able to do their work as efficiently. Noise has been linked to causing stress that then creates a drop in reading comprehension and the ability to successfully finish complex tasks.
How to Fix Loud Offices
There are several obvious solutions to cutting down on office noise. Giving everyone their own office is one way of cutting down on the dB levels in your workplace, as is trying to separate work groups into smaller rooms where they cannot disturb other groups. But both of these options are expensive and may not help you foster the open, collaborative working environment that works best for your company.
At Mark IV Communications we offer a sound masking service in addition to our data cabling (network cabling, and fiber optic cable installation) and security systems. We can install a number of speakers in your building that will help to raise the ambient noise floor to a comfortable level. This means that sounds around a worker will be greatly reduced, much like the sound of an approaching car seems more quiet if a listener is sitting next to a babbling stream. With an effective sound masking system your employees will be less distracted so they can get more work done. A sound masking system also helps with privacy and security, especially with face to face conversations and telephone calls.
Call Mark IV Communications today to find out how we can design and install a sound masking system that will make your office even more productive while simultaneously reducing the stress levels of your employees.