Among professional researchers who have studied the productivity of office-based information workers for decades, it is now universally accepted that conversational distractions are the biggest cause of lost productivity in open workplaces. Therefore they are the most important factor to limit and control.
Let’s look at the facts
Several independent studies using large and statistically-valid sample sizes produced interesting results. These studies, all of which have been published in peer-reviewed professional journals, showed the following improvements resulted from improved speech privacy levels:
- Focus: the ability of office workers to focus on their tasks improved by 48%
- Distractions: “conversational distractions” decreased by 51%
- Error-rates: performance of standard “information-worker” tasks (measured in terms of accuracy [error-rates] and short-term memory) improved by 10%
- Stress: when measured in terms of the actual physical symptoms of stress, stress was reduced by 27%
For a summary of these studies, please see this comprehensive overview.
Another recent study conducted by Cornell University found that workers in open-style offices with only low-level noise:
1. Experienced significantly higher levels of stress.
2. Made 40 percent fewer attempts to solve difficult problems.
3. Made only half as many ergonomic adjustments to their workstations as did their colleagues in quiet offices, resulting in an increase in repetitive strain injuries (such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) and workers’ comp claims.
For still more evidence supporting the quantifiable increase in productivity resulting from a good sound masking system, take a look at the Canadian Research Council’s study of the effects of acoustical privacy on workers.
In order to maximize your Sound Masking ROI, you’ll need to know how to compare your sound masking options. Ready to talk specifics? Contact us today and let our acoustic professionals help you determine the best way to increase privacy in your workplace!
Probably less than you think.
The custom privacy solutions that MPS recommends vary fairly widely depending on a number of factors, most importantly the size of the area and the combination of treatment options required. A large multi-story project is typically around $2 a square foot. While a small office of less than 5,000 square feet can’t benefit from the same economies of scale, MPS alone specializes in affordable privacy solutions for small to medium-sized organizations (try getting the other guys to even call you back if you’re under 10,000 square feet!).
For example, a 100,000 square foot floor minus restrooms, stairwells, mechanical rooms, and break rooms might only have 80,000 square feet that require treatment. So for a project this size start the investment estimate at $80,000. Now let’s be conservative and estimate you’d recover 5 minutes per worker (studies regularly show almost 3x that). The system would pay for itself in less than a year and could provide an ROI of more than $400,000 over 5 years.
Considering the benefits of better visual and acoustic privacy, most organizations can’t afford NOT to invest in a privacy solution.