When we talk of noise at work, it is natural to think of sectors that are the most exposed like factories or construction. In the trades that compose them, this risk is a reality because sound intensities are such that it is impossible to work sustainably without damaging one's hearing.

Numerous studies and articles confirm that we live in an increasingly noisy environment and this includes the service sector. Here we will talk less about the risk of noise damage but rather the nuisance of noise in, for example, open offices or "open spaces".

Noise is a nuisance and can be tiring when we work in open spaces

Noise nuisance: The real effects

Noise nuisance, according to the standard NF EN ISO 3382 is defined as a physiological and psychological process that tends to create a feeling of malaise disturbing the concentration of an individual working on a specific task. This standard recommends seeking to reduce noise values to between 40 and 55 dB (A), depending on the activity in open offices. In reality, these values are very quickly reached and exceeded.

According to the INRS, open offices represent 60% of French workspaces. The noise annoyance in "open space" is a reality that affects many employees:

  • 59% of employees working in open space consider the noise level to be high or very high and represents an annoyance for 53% of them.
  • 80% of French people say that they are affected by noise at work.
  • 4 out of 5 workers feel that it impedes their ability to concentrate.

The consequences of noise nuisance

On the quality of life at work

According to the 2015 ACTINEO / CSA barometer, 94% of working people consider that their workspace has a strong impact on their well-being. Noise is the third factor that most influences the quality of life at work.

In noisy environments the well being of your employees is affected in different ways:

  • Hearing Tiredness after an 8hr day,
  • Communication stress,
  • Irritation due to phone conversations of colleagues,
  • Difficulty concentrating amidst other people's conversations.

All this issues impact on the quality of work life of your employees, but also on their productivity.


A noisy environment adversely affects common daily tasks, such as:

  • Phone call,
  • Calculating,
  • Reading and using short term memory,
  • Writing, correcting, analysing situations.

In total, according to the IFOP / JNA survey in November 2016, nearly 6 million French people lose more than 30 minutes of working time per day due to noise and noise nuisance in open space. These lost minutes represent a cost that adds up to 19.2 billion euros per year of social costs for noise in the workplace reported by the ADME and the National Council of Noise.

The solution: Mitigate the exterior environment

With open space, just as in every other work sector, the first step is to reduce the noise at source. Here are a few pointers for you.

Take steps to deal with the structure

  • Avoid placing noisy equipment, for example a photocopier, next to a wall or in a corner, as that hugely amplifies its noise.
  • Construct partitioning that impede any reverberation of noise and to delimit your employees personal space.
  • Reduce the effect of surrounding noise by using cabinets with noise absorbing walls.

Should it not be possible to work on the source of the noise or it is too onerous, then address it individually for each employee using custom made noise filters. In this case, choose a solution:

  • With which your employees can communicate between themselves and answer phone calls etc.
  • That are sufficiently comfortable to wear all day.
  • That are discreet so as not to stigmatise your employees.

Discover Clear: the custom made noise filter

The conference "Tailor-made noise filter: Say stop to the noise annoyance in the open spaces!", organized on the occasion of the Exhibition of Purchasing and Work Environment, has allowed our specialist in noise problems in the tertiary sector to present Clear: your solution against the noise nuisance.

With more than 25 years of expertise in the manufacture of noise reducing plugs for sectors exposed to noise such as construction and factories, Cotral Lab now designs devices to improve the work life of employees in the service sector.

Clear noise filters, ear made to measure plugs made from a mould of the ear reduces surrounding noise without isolating your employees.

The advantages for your employees

  • Improved concentration
  • Less tiredness and stress
  • Improved work conditions

The advantages for your company

  • Improved performance by your employees
  • Less risk of error
  • A quick and economical solution