Noise is distracting at work

Today, changes in the workplace have introduced new levels of noise that were absent just a few years ago. Effective noise management is now a business imperative that extends from inside the office walls to anywhere work happens.  Rising costs have put pressure on organizations to consolidate their office space. At the same time, companies in many industries have realized that increased collaboration, both planned and spontaneous, contributes to innovation. These changes have led to the rise of the open office—but also rising dissatisfaction, with 53 percent of employees reporting that they are disturbed by others when trying to focus.

In an open-office environment, people must compete to hear and be heard. Noise and lack of privacy are the top complaints. And it isn’t just noise, but the type of noise: the human voice is the most distracting of all. Productivity can drop by as much as 40 percent as people struggle to tune out unwanted speech.



With the rise of the mobile employee and flexible working policies, noise challenges have emerged outside the office as well.  Many flexible workers spend most of their time in an office but also work from other locations, and may rely on their smartphones or softphones. They use a range of audio and video collaboration technologies, often moving fluidly between meetings, one-to-one collaboration and focus time as they get their jobs done. Flexible workers need tools that make this experience effortless. They also need the best audio quality so they feel like they have a voice in meetings or alternatively can listen to music to help them focus.

During the Microsoft Ignite opening keynote today, Gurdeep Singh Pall pointed out how it is no longer acceptable to have audio conference calls with 20 people on the call and five dogs barking in the background.

What should you do?

Noise management in the office begins with acoustics. The first step is to look over the workplace to determine what can be done acoustically to improve the environment.  Did you know that water noise is considered to be among the most effective masking sounds?  You can also introduce headsets to block out background noise and help users enjoy high-quality communications. Plantronics uses a variety of headset technologies, such as noise cancellation, to achieve optimum results using active and passive noise cancellation at both the transmission point (what you hear) and reception point (how you sound).   Additional technologies built into Plantronics headsets include:

  • Digital signal processing (DSP) to produce a more natural voice sound
  • Sidetone feedback
  • Multiple microphones in a single device
  • Hearing protection for sudden increases in sound levels.

Check out the Plantronics Blackwire 725 headset that is certified for Skype for Business. The solution provides these noise management technologies along with hi-fi stereo performance for when you or your colleagues want to immerse in music and focus on work.  My favorite channel is soft jazz, what’s yours?

Hear and be heard

Hear and be heard