Quiet please: Financial services grapple with noise-related productivity slump, study reveals
Oscar Acoustics, a specialist in architectural acoustic finishes, reveals ongoing exposure to increasing noise levels is diminishing productivity levels in the financial and professional services sectors.
The findings formed part of a detailed study of 1,500 financial services employees, focusing on the impact of workplace noise. It discovered that 81% of staff in the industry have experienced a significant drop in productivity due to elevated noise levels in their work environments.
Constant distractions in offices are becoming a deterrent for bankers, with more than a quarter (27%) pinpointing excessive noise as one of their biggest frustrations. Moreover, nearly three-quarters (74%) of employees in the Financial Services sector feel they achieve more focused work at home than in the office.
When delving further into the causes of reduced productivity within the sector, the research revealed that 52% of staff are unable to concentrate due to excessive noise in the workplace.
When asked specifically about the levels of noise in the office, three in ten investment bankers admit to a disconnect with their working environment, choosing to work from home in place of the office, while 20% have felt compelled to relocate to a different desk away from their colleagues.
Excessive noise has also been shown to have a negative influence on workers’ health. The survey found that 11% of UK finance workers believe that their working conditions have caused damage to their hearing. Over one-fifth have difficulty sleeping, and more than a quarter (26%) report needing to work outside of their contracted hours to compensate for a decline in productivity.
Going further, over a third (36%) emphasise a rise in stress levels due to persistent exposure to office noise.
The perpetual noise has also triggered colleague conflicts. Among financial services employees, 7% admitted to using physical violence, with almost a fifth also confessing to negative co-worker relationships in the workplace. Additionally, 6% said that workplace noise compelled them to resign from their positions.
When asked if their employers are working to reduce uncomfortable noise levels, only 22% of respondents believe the issue is being taken seriously. Alarmingly, one in six (15%) finance traders surveyed revealed that the required measures to encourage a quieter office atmosphere are yet to be implemented.
Commenting on the study, Ben Hancock, Managing Director at Oscar Acoustics, said: “Employers in the financial services sector have faced greater hurdles in managing hybrid work expectations from employees since the pandemic, and with more discussions about reducing the number of days spent at home, those challenges show no sign of easing.
“Office design has advanced substantially to better meet employee needs, but our research demonstrates that acoustic performance is still lacking, having a damaging impact on staff wellbeing and productivity. Financial Services BDMs need to do more to guarantee that their office environment allows their employees to function efficiently.
“The issue of noise has gone under the radar for far too long and with hybrid working arrangements here to stay, the situation is now impossible to ignore. Noise may seem like a small irritant, but it’s now something that businesses in the sector must address if they are to attract workers back into the office and retain staff.”