How noise affects worker productivity and happiness

Many of us work in office environments – and that can often mean plying our trade in an open plan environment. The modern trend for open plan offices means exposure to residual, background noise throughout our working day. Whilst this may not seem to be a major issue, excessive noise can lead to much more than just a mild irritation or distraction – it can harm productivity, happiness, general well-being and even physical health.

Here are some examples of how workplace noise can affect us:


Many things at in the workplace can cause stress – and excessive or prolonged exposure to noise can be one of the more damaging aspects. Even the most common of workplace noises, such as phones ringing or general conversation, can produce negative physiological effects in people.

Blood pressure and heart rate rhythms can be increased, leading to raised stress levels and potential hypertension.

Reduced productivity

Research shows that somebody exposed to a nearby conversation can be up to 66% less productive because of the distraction – whether reading or writing. With the modern office layout being largely open plan, this simple distraction can lead to massive loss of productivity.

Disruptive conversations

Other people’s simple conversation is one of the most destructive sounds in the workplace – whether you want to listen to their talking or not, it inevitably catches your attention and distracts you from whatever task you are undertaking.


World Health Organisation figures reveal that around £30 billion pounds per year is lost in European workplaces due to excessive noise levels – this includes the number of sick days taken by staff. Amazingly, people who work in open plan offices take 70% more sick days than home workers!

Disrupted multitasking

Multitasking is especially negatively disrupted by environmental noise and once distracted, proves much more difficult to re-establish your original train of thought.


As mentioned earlier, noise is a cause of stress – this stress means you having to work harder to complete any task, therefore making your day more difficult, less productive and, inevitably, more tiring!

Headphones or earplugs

Some may suggest headphones or earplugs as a solution – however, neither of these suggestions are particularly helpful or beneficial. Headphones playing music make information retention more difficult whilst regular wearing of earplugs can lead to damaged hearing and potential ear infections.

Damaged hearing

The noise levels don’t have to be extreme to have detrimental effects on staff – even moderate noise, if regular and prolonged, can lead to damage and even hearing loss.

Whether your workplace is an office or a substantially noisier environment – a workshop factory or industrial building – if the noise levels are harming employee wellbeing and productivity, then it is worth considering taking action to reduce those noise levels. Contact a reputable commercial door manufacturer and ask about their range of acoustic doors and panels. As well as providing a solution for the noise issues in your work environment, acoustic rated fire doors can also provide another vital safety feature to protect your staff at work.

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