Make Some Noise for Productivity: New Study

Poly research shows different working styles between generations

Make Some Noise for Productivity: New Study

A recent study from the leading communications company, Poly, finds that 55% of Gen Z workers and 56% of millennials prefer noisier open offices to closed, quiet spaces. As leaders in powering meaningful human connections, Poly chose to conduct a study into 5,150 respondents from numerous countries, including the UK, US, Canada, France, Australia, and Japan.

The research happened in conjunction with Future Workplace and found that the different generations in the workplace today have unique preferences when it comes to exposure to sound-based distractions. According to the CMO and executive VP of Poly, Amy Barzdukas, it’s no surprise that there are so many unique demands in the workplace today when you consider how many different generations are working together in a single place. Clearly, the right mix of environmental experiences and technology can support productivity and encourage efficiency.

What Did the Study Discover?

Amy Barzdukas

Amy Barzdukas

Respondents of all ages in the study said that they would prefer working in offices if they didn’t have to worry about noisy co-workers. 99% of the employees interviewed said that they get distracted in their personal workspace. 51% also claimed that distractions make it harder to be heard or listen properly on calls. Usually, it’s thoughtless coworkers that cause the majority of problems. 76% of respondents said their biggest distraction was a colleague talking loudly on the phone. Another 65% blamed people talking loudly nearby.

Despite the threat of noisy people, many Millennials and Gen Z respondents still claim that they prefer working in an open office. According to the younger groups, they feel more productive in a noisy and collaborative environment. 55% of Gen Z and around 56% of millennials preferred open offices compared to only 38% of Baby Boomers, and 47% of Gen X.

52% of Gen Z also said that they feel more productive when they’re working with noise around them. Additionally, 20% of Gen Z said they spend at least half of their day communicating on a video call, or telephone conversation. Only 7% of Baby Boomers felt the same.

Dealing with Distractions in the Workplace

Gen Z is responsible for millions of new employees in the global workforce. This younger group seems to have a unique working style compared to previous generations, according to the founding partner of Future Workplace, Jeanna Meister. Compared to older groups, Millennials and Gen Z said that they were comfortable dealing with distractions. Indeed, around 35% of Gen Z workers use headphones to manage the noise. Three times as many, Baby Boomers said that they struggle to find a solution to distractions in the open office.

Future WorkplaceThe survey results from Poly and Future Workplace demonstrate that 3 in 4 people would be more likely to spend additional time in the office and be more productive if distractions were reduced. This reflects an opportunity for HR and IT to collaborate on creating a better environment for their teams. For instance, while 9 out of 10 respondents are distracted on phone and video calls, 56% believe the issue could be reduced with better tech.

Over half of the employees interviewed also said that their organisation would be able to reduce office distractions by establishing quiet zones or setting guidelines for appropriate noise levels in the office. For more details from the Poly study, or guidance building a more effective open office, check out Poly’s resources here.

How do you respond to distractions at work? Do you think silence or noise is key to success? Let us know in the comments below.


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