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Employees left to their own devices

Management inaction is forcing employees to find their own answer to the problem of noise in open plan offices, warns Plantronics in a new report.

In an international survey of 500 senior executives and non-management employees by Oxford Economics, 75% of employees said they took walks outside the office in order to focus. Nearly one third (32%) wear headphones to concentrate.

Only 1% of employees say they can block out distractions and concentrate without taking additional measures. In the same survey three years ago, the figure was 20%, suggesting that the problem of noise in
offices is getting worse.

This is supported by the fact that while 54% of executives believe employees have the tools to mitigate noise and distractions at work, only 29% of employees agree, down from 41% in 2015.

According to Plantronics, companies with revenue growth of above 10% are more likely to address distractions and noisy environments, for example by providing workers with tools to block out noise and quiet space to focus.

Yet, almost two thirds (63%) of employees complain that they lack quiet space for focused work, which has a knock-on effect on their productivity, satisfaction and well-being. Just 6% of executives claim to have equipped their offices with noise mitigating features.

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