Monday, June 04, 2012

Overhearing Office Chatter Decreases Productivity

I've never been able to write, read, research, pray, or engage in any concentration-intense activity when a TV is on or when there's loud conversation happening close to me. And precisely because I love music so much, the only kind of music I can have playing around me when I'm working on a sermon, for example, is instrumental stuff, like classical or jazz, that doesn't engage me emotionally or mentally. Were I to play any of my favorite artists' music, all of whom sing, or listen to NPR, while trying to be productive, I could forget about getting anything useful done.

Maybe I'm easily distracted. But today's Harvard Business Review's Daily Stat indicates that at least one form of distraction, one that I would find hard to deal with if I worked in an office with others, can decrease productivity.

JUNE 4, 2012
Coworkers' Conversations Impair Your Performance

Overhearing your office mates' conversations can cause a decline of 5% to 10% in your ability to read, write, and carry out other tasks requiring efficient use of short-term memory, according to a New York Times report of a study by Finland's Institute of Occupational Health. The researchers found that in an office environment, speech is the most disturbing type of sound because it is processed by working memory. Employees perform better when speech is masked by the sound of a babbling brook.

Source: From Cubicles, Cry for Quiet Pierces Office Buzz

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