In a recent Fast Company feature, 'Quiet or I’m quitting: Here’s why your employees are getting so fed up with workplace noise', Jennifer Alsever writes, "As workers return to offices, they may be less tolerant of pre-pandemic decibel levels, especially if they are introverts".
Noise can make us lose concentration, motivation, and brain functioning: People lose an estimated 86 minutes of productivity each day because of noise distractions, according to a study by Steelcase. It takes another 23 minutes to get back on task after an interruption, according to another University of California at Irvine study.
Sensitivity to noise varies among people. Introverts, for instance, tend to tolerate much less noise than extroverts, according to Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. She writes of one study in which extroverts chose 72 decibels for the “just right” level of sound, while introverts chose 55 decibels. Those introverts also performed much worse on tasks when exposed to the extrovert’s noise levels.
In the Fast Company article, Amanda ends with a section looking at Solutions for a Noisy world, saying:
To improve acoustics, companies are installing modular phone booths for quiet work and building huddle rooms with soundproofing that allows everyone in virtual meetings—both at home and in the office—to hear more clearly. On Quiet Mark's Acoustics Academy directory of verified solutions for every application area, you will find such meeting room and booth solutions by brands including BuzziSpace, Vetrospace and BlockO.
In addition, Amanda notes, "Companies are also turning to “soundscaping.” One UK soundscaping company, Moodsonic, does this by playing a wide range of nature sounds, from the babble of a stream to island forests, inside client offices and thereby silencing noisy conversations or a surge in activity. "The company’s software uses sensors to monitor areas of offices and automatically adjust the sounds", says Evan Benway, managing director of Moodsonic.
Moodsonic was recently Quiet Mark certified and is also one of many solutions listed on Acoustics Academy. In this episode, accompanied by fellow guest, Ethan Bourdeau, Sound Concept Lead at IWBI - The International WELL Building Institute, we take a deep dive into the ways in which sound masking and soundscaping can help support a human-centric approach to building design; creating inclusive spaces that cater to a wide neurodiverse range of occupants, from extroverts to introverts.