Last week, we looked at what the folks in Germany have to say about noisy offices. This week, we have some insights to share from Finland. The country’s Institute of Occupational Health conducted a study that showed a measurable decrease in cognitive abilities for employees who worked in cubicles where distractions were common. The specific type of brain function affected was the ability to make effective use of short term memory for tasks like reading, writing, and…wait, what was I saying?
…Sorry, I got distracted again. You get the picture. Human speech is evidently the worst offender when it comes to drawing a person’s attention away from the task at hand. That’s probably because we haven’t yet learned an important lesson in the 200,000 odd years since spoken language was invented: just because someone is talking doesn’t mean they are conveying important information. Our brains give high priority to what people say – even if it’s just idle chit-chat.
So, until we can train our brains to ignore the conversations going on around us, we need tools that address the volume of the chatter. One increasingly popular item for workplaces that need to limit voice distractions is the pink noise machine. This technology takes the “If you can’t beat them, join them” approach to problem solving. It actually increases noise in the frequency of the human voice. The whooshing sound effectively muddles the sound of speech, making it indistinct. Apparently, this keeps the brain from being over-stimulated by conversations. Instead, it makes the hubbub of the office into background noise that can be easily blocked out.
Note: Acoustic privacy shields (cubicle extenders and desk-mounted panels) are another piece of equipment every office should have to help combat distractions. Give us a call or use our contact form to get started with your order today!