noise pollution and work from home
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Noise Pollution and the Impact on Work Productivity

Noise pollution can affect anyone’s productivity on the job, whether they work in a traditional office or from home. From non-stop ringing phones at the office to a neighbor’s barking dog disrupting work in the home office, noise pollution is all too real for millions of Americans. The issue of noise pollution has only gotten worse with the popularity of the open office format so many employers have implemented over the past decade.

In an open office format, a single conversation between two co-workers can decrease the productivity of an employee sitting close to them by as much as 70 percent. However, it isn’t just productivity that suffers.

Working in a chronically noisy environment eventually takes a toll on health, resulting in employees taking more sick days and incurring greater healthcare costs. For those who work at home, the world is often much noisier during the week than it is on the weekends.

Unique Noise Concerns of At-Home Workers

The Coronavirus pandemic forced millions of workers from offices to work from home. Many workers found that noise pollution in the neighborhood made the transition to working from home especially challenging. Sounds they rarely heard while home on weekend came as a surprise and made it difficult to concentrate on work.

Construction projects, increased weekday traffic and airplane noise, or even people talking loudly while walking by the house are all examples of noises people may experience working from home that they never heard at the office.

Soundproofing the windows at home is often the best solution for dealing with distracting noise while working remotely. Employers who require employees to work at home indefinitely or have a phased plan to bring workers back due to coronavirus may cover the cost of purchase and installation.

The self-employed will need to cover the cost of soundproof windows and installation themselves. However, they can claim a business deduction when filing their next tax return.

Other Options to Control Distracting Noise in Any Environment

Finding the ideal solution to noise pollution sometimes takes a bit of trial and error. What works for one person in the office may have no impact on the person sitting in the next cube. Similarly, some solutions may work for a while and then become less effective. It all comes down to people finding what works best for them. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Asking whoever is creating the sounds if they could reduce the volume.
  • Earplugs
  • Listening to soft music that cancels out the distracting sounds.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • White noise machine

Employees who work on-site may need to get the manager approval before using any of these techniques.

Earbuds Designed to Combat Noise Pollution and Improve Focus

Leaders in auditory wearable technology continue to innovate solutions to help people to improve office environment comfort. Some new earbuds include an office setting that filters out distracting background noise. The noise reduction pairs with speech enhancement, enabling the user to hear what’s most important.

Those who work at home can select either the home or office setting to achieve the best sound filtering for their situation based on their unique user profile. PC manufacturer HP has also entered this space. Their newly announced HP Elite Wireless earbuds are designed for remote work collaboration.

Expect the trend of more audio solutions for combating noise pollution to continue in 2021.