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Roaring Decibels: Study Reveals How Noise Disrupts Finance Workers’ Productivity

Financial firms need to do more to guarantee that their office environment allows their employees to function efficiently as a study reveals a decline in performance due to high noise levels.

Amid the hustle and bustle of financial hubs, a concerning revelation has emerged from a nationwide study – eight out of 10 employees in the financial services sector have reported a decline in their performance directly attributed to elevated noise levels.

For its whitepaper Office Noise: The Nation’s Productivity Pitfall acoustic firm Oscar Acoustics polled 1,500 employees, from junior to senior level, about the impact excessive noise has on productivity levels in the workplace.

Frustrating times

The relentless barrage of distractions within office spaces is becoming a significant deterrent for bankers, with 27 per cent identifying excessive noise as a top frustration. Furthermore, 74 per cent of employees in the financial services sector have reported that they experience heightened focus while working from home, rather than in the traditional office environment.

As the investigation delved deeper into the root causes of diminished productivity within the sector, the research uncovered that more than half of staff struggle to maintain concentration due to the prevalence of excessive noise in their workplace.

When specifically questioned about the noise levels within their office, three in 10 investment bankers acknowledged feeling disconnected from their working environment, leading them to opt for remote work instead. Additionally, 20 per cent admitted to relocating to alternate desks away from colleagues due to the intrusive noise.

Impact on health

The detrimental impact of amplified noise extends beyond work performance, extending its reach to workers’ health and wellbeing. According to the survey, 11 per cent of UK finance workers attribute damage to their hearing to their working conditions. Over a fifth of respondents experience difficulty sleeping, while more than a quarter (26 per cent) find themselves compelled to work beyond their contracted hours to compensate for the decline in productivity caused by noise disruptions.

The perpetual cacophony has also been a catalyst for conflicts among colleagues. Startlingly, seven per cent of financial services employees admitted to resorting to physical violence as a consequence of the overwhelming noise.

Almost a fifth of the workforce conceded to having strained relationships with co-workers due to the disruptive environment. Additionally, six per cent revealed that the incessant workplace noise pushed them to resign from their positions, highlighting the critical need for businesses to address this escalating concern.

Important issue

“Employers in the financial services sector have faced greater hurdles in managing hybrid work expectations from employees since the pandemic, and with more discussions about reducing the number of days spent at home, those challenges show no sign of easing,” says Ben Hancock, managing director at Oscar Acoustics.

“Office design has advanced substantially to better meet employee needs, but our research demonstrates that acoustic performance is still lacking, having a damaging impact on staff wellbeing and productivity. Financial Services BDMs need to do more to guarantee that their office environment allows their employees to function efficiently.”

“Noise may seem like a small irritant, but it’s now something that businesses in the sector must address if they are to attract workers back into the office and retain staff.”


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