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How Background Noise Affects Productivity

There are beneficial noises and others that are not, discover the differences.

Although in general it could be said that noise affects the comfort and productivity of employees, currently there is a difference between the noises and sounds that most affect concentration and those that, on the contrary, are an actual tool for carrying out certain work activities.

For example, when performing repetitive activities, those that do not require deep mental concentration, background noise is not necessarily a disadvantage, but in the case of activities where you really need to be focused, the story is different.



While for some it would be an exaggeration to say that their work environments are noisy, studies have always concluded that intermittent sounds tend to strongly affect cognitive activity, therefore, it is not just that continuous noise affects concentration or rational thinking, but intermittent noises are as counterproductive or more than the first.

Let us look at another example, if some kind of calculation is in progress, the sound of a phone ringing can completely override the ability to continue with that calculation. Likewise, in the case of the sound of footsteps on the floor, of doors opening or closing, of a printer or of the coffee maker; These are all intermittent sounds that affect concentration and can generate a load of stress that is difficult to control.



Some people consider that listening to their favorite music with headphones will help block out outside sound but, and as we mentioned before, it will always depend on the type of activity that is carried out to achieve a more or less productive result. It was recently discovered that workers in noisy environments hardly move from their seats, which is counterproductive for postural health, exposing them to injury or muscle pain.

As we have seen, background noise is really bad for productivity, but it is also a fact that some people find a certain higher level of concentration in noisy environments, as is the case with those who visit coffee shops to do activities that they would not otherwise be able to carry out. It is now a reality that certain types of outside sounds benefit concentration, such as having a radio or television on in another room. This “distant” sound is known as “white noise” and it is confirmed that this type of noise helps the brain isolate itself, giving the person a moment of “enlightenment” beneficial for focus and productivity.