Return of Ear-Piercing Sounds

On July 27th this year, I wrote an article titled The Hidden Strengths of Silence. Within 2 months’ time, we are here to talk about noise that has once again surrounded us at the workplaces. For the past 20 months or so, many of us have gotten a respite from noise as the world slowed down in response to the pandemic. But as life slowly revs back up, it’s a good time to stop and think just what we stand to lose from an increase in volume around us. Indeed, loud noise is more than just a threat to our hearing and to our quality of life. 

Surveys indicate that we care more about interior acoustics than we do about how clean our workplaces are, what we sit on and the temperature of our offices. This sucks because the world is getting louder, much louder than we could imagine. And our workplaces are not immune. The volume around us isn’t being cranked up on its own. A lot of the blame for clamorous offices can be levelled at the trend of open plan offices. These sleek, open spaces are usually comprised of reflective easy-to-clean surfaces, which reflect sound, create harsh echoes and compound environmental noises.

But while the debate between open plan offices and cubicles rages on – there is one thing we are certain of, and that is that open plan offices are almost always the noisiest of the two. The bad news for the employers is that excessive noise can mean more than just mild irritation – it adversely affects our productivity, well-being, happiness, and most importantly, our physical and mental health.


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