With more people than ever working from home in the aftermath of the coronavirus, many have discovered that the home office environment is not as quiet as they might have expected. From repair crews tearing up the neighbor’s driveway to interruptions from delivery services, people are having to learn new ways to keep their focus.
Research has proven that continuous exposure to background noise has a negative impact on cognitive abilities. Essentially, people can’t concentrate on tasks that require thinking and problem-solving when they’re dealing with multiple distractions at the same time. Hence controlling noise is critical to optimizing work from home productivity.
Listening to music while trying to concentrate on a task has not proven to be especially useful since that can impair mental accuracy. However, calm background music can be helpful when completing repetitive tasks such as cleaning or data entry.
Some Effects of a Noisy Work Environment on the Human Body
Not only does a noisy background make it difficult to concentrate on work, but it can also increase heart rate and blood pressure as well. By the end of the day, people often feel mentally fatigued and stressed. This makes it difficult to switch gears from work life to home life, especially when they happen in the same space.
Constant noise exposure also has a significant negative impact on productivity. Then there’s the practical issue that excess noise makes it difficult for people working from home to participate in phone calls or video conferencing sessions.
Trying to work amidst too much background noise causes stress than sets off a chain reaction in the body. Stress tends to lower the body’s natural immune system and can result in employees calling in sick more often, even when they work from home.
Prolonged stress from noise exposure stimulates the cortisol hormone. Cortisol regulates the formation of memories, metabolism, and blood sugar. Some people crave foods high in salt and sugar when their cortisol becomes unbalanced and can find themselves unintentionally gaining weight as a result.
Fortunately, at-home workers can take several steps to control the impact of background noise on their health and productivity.
How to Soundproof a Home Office
Minimizing distractions is essential to help stay on task and avoid mental fatigue for people who work at home. Typical household sounds such as a dripping faucet or ticking clock can be both annoying and distracting.
Since people may not be aware of things that may distract them when working from home, they should sit in their office for a few minutes before starting work and listen for sounds. If they hear any that makes it difficult to concentrate, the best solution is to go to the source and correct it if possible.
Setting up a dedicated workspace can help to minimize distractions and make it easier to stay focused on work. Working from a desk is preferable, but a table will work if a desk is not available. Ideally, people working from home should have a separate room with a door they can close.
For those who don’t have a whole separate room to dedicate to work, setting up a desk or a table in a bedroom with a door they can close is preferable to working out in the open with family or roommates around to distract them.
Sometimes home workers have no control over the noise they must hear all day. A practical solution in this case would be to invest in acoustic foam. Acoustic foam helps to reduce the intensity of sound waves to reduce reverberations in the workspace.
IQbuds2 MAX Ideal for Work-at-Home Productivity
Earplugs and noise-canceling headphones are two options to reduce distracting background noise. While both can be helpful, they also come with disadvantages. Since earplugs only muffle sounds, the at-home worker may still feel distracted.
Noise-canceling headphones do a better job filtering noise, but they’re also bulky and impossible to keep on while taking phone calls. Nuheara IQbuds2 MAX offers solutions to both these issues.
IQbuds2 MAX comes with an active noise cancellation feature that enables users to drown out the sounds of the outside world when necessary. Paired with a smartphone application, it allows users to choose their current setting.
Choosing the setting of ‘office,’ for example, makes it easier for the user to concentrate on other people’s voices and not hear the distracting background noise that can make it difficult to follow conversations. Here are two other features that can be helpful for people working for home:
- Tap the earbuds to start or end phone calls or retrieve voice-activated assistance from a smartphone.
- Use Bluetooth 5.0 technology to connect computers or smartphones directly to participate in virtual meetings.
With many companies planning to keep employees working at home indefinitely, knowing how to create a comfortable, soundproof environment is key to maintaining productivity.
This content is sponsored by Andrew Armstrong.