Noise is a big problem in the modern workplace. But most managers do not understand the extent of the issue—and productivity is suffering as a result.
A new research program from Oxford Economics details what employees want from their work environments—and what executives need to do to get the most from their workers. The research, conducted in collaboration with Plantronics, includes a global survey of more than 1,200 senior executives and non-manager employees across industries and functional areas, along with in-depth interviews with executives who are taking steps to deal with these challenges.
Among the key findings:
• Workers just want to work. The ability to focus without interruptions is a top priority for employees when it comes to office design; access to amenities like free food is far less important.
• Technology integration is a work in progress. Employees are expected to be connected to the office all the time—but only 40% say the devices they use at home integrate seamlessly with their work tools.
• Constant connectivity breeds compulsive behavior—and could lead to burnout. More than one-third of employees say they use their tech devices primarily out of habit or compulsion, fear of missing out, or social pressure.
• The boss does not see the problems. Nearly two-thirds of executives say employees are equipped with the tools they need to deal with distractions at work; less than half of employees agree.
“Noise and distraction have a big impact on productivity,” says Edward Cone, deputy director of Thought Leadership and Technology Practice Lead at Oxford Economics. “These are issues that companies can address—but first they need to acknowledge the problem.”