Office noise is a major stress factor

Office noise is a major stress factor


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Noise in the open-plan office leads to health problems
30.04.2014

Anyone who works in an open-plan office knows the problem: Constant ringing of the phone, conversations with colleagues and continuous mouse and keyboard noises can become uncomfortable and exhausting in the long run. As a result, the high noise level in many offices often has a negative impact on performance. In many cases, the noise also causes massive stress, which can lead to health problems such as headaches or high blood pressure.

Chatting among colleagues is the biggest disruptive factor Working in an open-plan office can be very tiring, especially when colleagues are on the phone a lot and there are no acoustic partitions. Due to the constant noise, it is often not easy to concentrate - as a result, there are constant interruptions and reduced performance. As there are more and more offices in which several colleagues work together, the problem grows: "I consider the level of damage and the degree of annoyance to be underestimated," medical doctor and psychologist Markus Meis told the news agency "dpa". According to Meis , who conducts research for the hearing center at the University of Oldenburg, can reduce the performance of employees by five to ten percent due to high noise levels in the workplace, with chatting among colleagues being the biggest disruptive factor.

Speech cannot be hidden by the brain How the noise is experienced in the office varies from person to person, but can still be measured, Meis continues. For example, the expert had examined how a conversation between two colleagues in the immediate vicinity affects the performance of the working memory at the desk. "That is up to ten percent", according to the result of the doctor. The big problem here: Nobody can effectively defend themselves against this disruptive influence, because "our brain automatically focuses on speech processing," explains Meis. While the ringing of phones can be masked out over time, this is not possible with speech .

Open-plan offices are not acoustically advantageous. According to experts, physicist Georg Brockt explains to the "dpa" that it is hardly possible to write scientific work in a open-plan office or to make complex calculations. A problem that should not be underestimated, because according to Brockt more than half of the 12 to 15 million office workplaces are currently designed in the form of open-plan offices. For the physicist who works at the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Dortmund, this form of office could bring plus points in the communicative and social area, "but acoustically they are not advantageous." Only enough space between the individual desks could remedy this Because a double distance would mean a 50% reduction in sound, explains Wolfgang Panter, President of the Association of German Company and Company Doctors. According to the expert, more space for the employees would definitely pay off for the employers - even if this measure involves higher building costs. Because if you save space for your employees, you not only have to expect reduced performance, but also more illnesses.

Noise can cause muscle tension or cardiovascular diseases The background: noise is not only unpleasant and can lead to hearing damage such as tinnitus and hearing loss in the long run, but can also become a massive stress factor that has a negative effect on the nervous system. As a result, noise at the workplace can become a real health hazard and can lead to sleep and concentration disorders, gastric disorders, high blood pressure, muscle tension or cardiovascular diseases and even a heart attack. In addition to this, noise in the office also jeopardizes mental health, because it is assessed by the human psyche as a permanent alarm and danger situation. This quickly leads to inner unrest and an aggressive attitude, which can ultimately make dealing with and communicating with other people or colleagues more difficult.

Ensure more calm in good time So here the "emergency brake" should be pulled in time and in the case of strong noise pollution in the open-plan office you should look for ways to reduce it. Mobile partition walls, through which the sound can be absorbed, are an effective option. Plants in the office not only ensure a pleasant room climate, but also reduce the noise level. If new devices are purchased, care should be taken to ensure that they are quiet - the “Blue Angel” seal of approval provides good guidance here. Loud devices such as plotters and copiers should also be accommodated in a separate room if possible. In open-plan offices in particular, the use of mobile phones that have a vibration function instead of ringing loudly is often suitable, and the use of headsets also causes less interference for colleagues. In addition, if possible, there should always be an alternative room in which employees can retreat in order to be able to work concentratedly without distraction. (No)

Image: Jorma Bork / pixelio.de

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