We've already found out that noise, defined as unwanted sound, is one of the most harmful factors that affect office work. Workplace conditions in the office widely differ from tones of heavy industry; noise level measured in the office is mostly far from the upper limits established by the act of acceptable sound intensity. (85dB for long term exposure)

How loud is too loud?

It seems that looking for disruptive sources of noise in the software house should reach the dead end. Work passes smoothly, electronic devices hum peacefully and the coffee maker burbles favourably. To spotlight the situation we're talking about, take a short look at the list below that presents some interesting numbers collected from the wisdom of Uncle Google:

Noise source - Decibels (dB)

  • normal breathing - 10
  • whispering – 30
  • sounds of typical PC - 35-45
  • quiet office sounds – about 50
  • coffee making machine - 55
  • normal conversation – 60
  • telephone conversation – 70
  • average radio in the background – 75
  • noisy office sounds – 80

As for office conditions, everything looks perfectly fine, but...

So, what's the big deal? When do sounds become noise?

Establishing when sound becomes to be disruptive, even in the favourable surrounding conditions, depends on three aspects: how long does it last, its intensity and frequency. Repetitive, continuous tones with an intensity of more than 65 dB are believed to be highly affective to the office workers. What is more, distractions are more likely to occur when workers have no control over its sources – one can't stand buzz of the broken air conditioning unit, squeaks of an old dot matrix printing device or guffaws of the secretary permanently gossiping on the phone. Sounds familiar? Researches proved that loud conversations and the continuous device-beeping sounds can be a real hard nut to crack in the way to the creativity. Wonder what can you do about it? Remember our despotic friend described in the previous post? He has given us some ruby tips that you can also find beneficial.

Bothered by the nose?

Noisy offices have a tremendous impact on the productivity of workers. Once irritated creative mind is way less from being successful. Certain levels of noise can discourage a person's ability to concentrate on a particular task and that can raise levels of frustration. And again, once frustrated creative mind is damn way less from being successful. Temporary incapacity of performing everyday common, often - well known office tasks can raise stress levels. Widely! Wise guy says - no pain, no gain - it is proved that slight doses of stress may have a positive influence on the immune system. It's all true, but remember that every coin has two sides: workers exposed to appreciable levels of stress are more likely to suffer from diseases of the human nature like depression, insomnia, heart diseases, problems with memory and many, many more. In addition, lack of concentration caused by stress increases the possibility of mistake making that, let's face it, is not quite welcomed in the professional fields.

Actions speak louder than words.

Generally speaking, work hygiene in the office helps people do their job effectively and productively. Still, we have to remember that the atmosphere in the workplace is built by the people we're (for sure!) happy to meet and co-work with every day. And as far as an office companionship stands, proofs of a mutual respect can be shown by the noiseless actions. The actions of the agile people, willing to do some Ruby loads of great work together.