Workers returning to the office ask for quiet spaces

Photo credit: Cadeau Maestro

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

While researchers and individuals concerned about the impact of noise on health, well-being, and productivity have noted the potential impacts of noise in a work environment, apparently the COVID pandemic made workers more aware of noise in their workplaces. This could be in part due to the greater quiet many people experienced when working at home. Now that they have been asked to return to the office, Jennifer Alsever, FastCompany, writes that many workers are requesting quieter spaces in which to work.

Loud sounds are also common in certain shops, e.g. beauty shops where the sounds of hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, and conversation abounded. Alsever quotes the CEO of Bishops Salon shops, Leigh Feldman, who says that customers have asked for a quieter environment. In response, Feldman has provided the option of a “silent appointment” in his shops. He then added that many of his hairstylists, who tend to be social, “enjoy the break in conversation at work.”

Alsever notes that noise might lead to a loss of “concentration, motivation, and brain functioning,” and she lists the adverse health impacts of noise. In addition, she cites a study that found introverts are more likely to perform worse on tasks in a noisy environment. Fortunately, the article suggests ways that offices can be made “quieter.”

It is interesting that the COVID pandemic caused more people to be aware of surrounding sounds, with many now asking that their environments be made quieter. As time passes, and, one hopes, COVID will be less of a problem, I wonder if people will continue to request surrounding environments be made quieter.

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