Remote working: how noise can help

11 Jul 19 ARH away tinyAnthony Haynes writes: Last year we published a post about a psychological study on the relationship between noise and creative work.

The research, by Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu, and Amar Cheema, indicated, somewhat  counter-intuitively, that if we want to be creative, then rather than seeking somewhere quite to work we might be better off seeking somewhere with moderate noise levels.

Now comes another report (‘Like to work with background noise? It could be boosting your performance’, The Conversation, 8 July 2019) on research into the relationship between noise and work, this time from Dr Onno van der Groen (Edith Cowan University).

The research he reports places greater emphasis on neuroscience.

The findings indicate a U-shaped relationship between noise and performance on certain cognitive tasks: “sensory signals can be enhanced by noise and improve behaviour in various animals. Research in humans has manipulated noise levels by making people listen to noisy sounds, look at static on a screen or by adding random vibration to the skin. It’s been shown that as the intensity of noise is increased, a certain optimal noise level allows people to see, hear and feel better. Too much noise degrades our performance“.

While noting that “the optimal level of noise that can enhance cognitive functions could be different for everyone“, van der Groen concludes that “if you do prefer to work in a noisy environment, you can safely make the argument that it’s likely boosting your performance“.


2 thoughts on “Remote working: how noise can help

  1. I currently work from home and find that the continuing (months and yeas) noise from building works all around me pervades my thoughts and impacts negatively on my creativity.

    QUIET is key to concentration and I’m not quite there yet!


    1. Thank you. What the research suggests is that too much noise degrades performance — and so does too little. There is an optimum level, between the two. What the optimum level is varies between individuals,.


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