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If you’re a small business owner, next time you’re recruiting you might like to point out that smaller businesses are generally quieter. According to of the ‘Noise and Wellbeing at Work’ survey, it makes for better employee well being.

The survey showed that 61% of employees within large companies say that noise is an issue at work, compared to just 37% of small business staff.

The negative effects of noise

1,000 UK office workers took part in the survey carried out by business solutions specialist The Remark Group. It showed, unsurprisingly to many, that excessive noise in the workplace is having a negative impact.

Sudden bursts of noise were judged the most irritating in the workplace.

The top five of irritating workplace noises are:

It effects productivity.

The Remark Group noted that when the time taken to refocus is factored in, this can mean that over half the workforce is losing more than an hour of work time a day.

It effects well being.

Other workplace issues

Unfortunately, it’s not just noise that’s an issue. A lack of privacy was also highlighted as a problem.

64% of respondents reported that they often suffer from a lack of privacy at work. It’s not surprising when the survey found that more than a quarter of offices don’t have private rooms for meetings and a third don’t have a quiet, private place for employees to use. Yet 71% feel their offices would benefit from a private place for discussions.


In nearly all cases the percentage of people impacted by noise or a lack of privacy was significantly higher among those working in large businesses with 500+ employees.


The work environment matters

Dr Nigel Oseland, a senior lecturer at UCL’s Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, was involved in the survey.

“As more companies are adopting open plan design and agile working, the core challenge to the workplace community, designers and suppliers is to resolve office noise distraction and enhance focussed work, whilst maintaining collaborative and creative environments.”

It’s an issue small businesses can’t ignore, either as recruiters or retainers of employees.

Is there a quiet place for your employees to have a private face-to-face or phone conversation, or to have privacy if they’re distressed? How noisy is your work environment?

About The Author

Elizabeth Hughes

A content writer specialising in business, finance, software, and beyond. I'm a wordsmith with a penchant for puns and making complex subjects accessible. Learn more about Elizabeth.

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