Our latest piece in Work In Mind is here, go to their website or read the article below.
Over the past six months the Remark Group has been conducting surveys to understand whether noise and air quality are having an impact on an employee’s wellbeing and productivity.
In March 2019, their survey ‘Noise and Wellbeing at Work’ showed that nearly half of UK office workers believe that noise has a negative impact on their overall wellbeing and more recently in the ‘Air Quality and Wellbeing at Work’, 57% of UK office workers think that indoor air quality is affecting their mental and physical health.
The working environment is obviously important to employees, with sixty-five of UK office workers stating that the workplace environment would impact on their decision in accepting a job offer, whilst a massive 80% report a good working environment would affect their decision to stay with a company.
With this in mind, it’s curious to understand that the open plan office is still receiving a huge amount of complaints in regard to noise and air quality.
Noise and Wellbeing
Noise has a direct impact on a person’s ability to complete a task in a timely and productive manner. It also has a negative impact on a person’s workplace wellbeing and stress levels.
Sixty-one percent of UK office workers say that they are interrupted by noise at least five to ten times a day, they then went onto report that it takes an average of eleven minutes to get back into a task after being distracted by noise. This means, on average, 1 hour and 23 minutes a day are wasted just from noise distractions – that’s almost seven hours a week!
It’s not just productivity that noise is harming either; in the same survey 58% of UK office workers say that noise has a high impact on their stress levels in the workplace, and 44% state that noise had a negative impact on their overall wellbeing. Exposure to excessive noise levels stimulates our nervous system, raising blood pressure and releasing stress hormones.
Air Quality and Wellbeing
As a known factor for affecting an individual’s wellbeing and productivity within the workplace, air quality is now becoming a concern for those wanting to improve the wellbeing and health of their employees. From headaches and fatigue to eye irritation, issues with air quality within work environments are extremely common.
The ‘Air Quality and Wellbeing at Work’ survey found that:
- 78% report they have dry eyes at work
- 78% have itchy or watery eyes
- 76% have a dry throat
- 70% complain of itchy or irritated skin
In the same survey, 86% of the 1,000 respondents get headaches at work, with almost a quarter of them suffering with headaches on a daily basis. Respondents also reported that their indoor air quality at work is having a negative impact on their productivity.
We don’t want to be all doom and gloom on the open plan office; in fact, we are believers in the open plan, we just think design elements such as the office acoustics and air monitoring need to be taken into consideration to help improve employee’s wellbeing and productivity.
And it’s not just the open plan office that’s having issues: nearly 90% of office workers say they find themselves nodding off or losing concentration in meetings, whilst one in four of us say meeting rooms aren’t facilitating productivity or collaboration, and half of people leave meetings thinking they weren’t successful.
For productivity levels in the workplace to increase and wellbeing enhanced, we seriously need to think about the working environment and consider what employers can do to ensure that their employees are at their most productive.