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  • Writer's pictureKelvin Mureithi

How Office Noise Levels Impact Focus, Creativity, and Purchasing Behaviour


The dance between noise and productivity is a fascinating phenomenon, as discussed in this paper.

According to the research, a 10dB (whispers) increase in ambient noise can lead to a 5% decrease in productivity.

Other similar studies suggests:

  • Deep focus tasks thrive in environments with low noise levels (below 50dB). Total silence promotes concentration.

  • Creative tasks, however, benefit from moderate background noise around 70dB. Surprisingly, these moderate noise levels also increase the likelihood of making a purchase.

  • High noise levels of 85dB and above have overwhelmingly negative effects on both productivity and creativity. You've likely experienced this if you work or live in a noisy area.

What's more: Research by Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine reveals it takes up to 22 minutes to fully regain focus after any interruption, whether noise-related or not. This can lead to frustration and stress from blown deadlines.

Finding the optimal balance is key to ensure noise levels are kept within a productive range. While individual efforts like noise-cancelling headphones and lo-fi hip hop beats help, designing buildings for acoustic comfort may be the unsung hero.

  • For example, by incorporating sound-absorbing surfaces and intentionally selected window systems we can effectively lower noise levels, creating an environment more conducive to productivity and/or creativity.

These quiet design choices could be the secret cheerleaders motivating us to do our best deep or creative work.


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