How can your PC improve productivity and work environment?

Jan 12, 2017

In your lifetime, you will spend 30% of your time at work. A sobering statistic, so it’s not surprising that so much research has been done over the last few decades on how to optimize workplace environments and make worker health a top priority. In particular, there’s been a lot of focus on noise pollution and the negative effect that background noise can have on health and productivity.

woman stressed at workplace

As a company that specialises in quiet-running computers, we decided to do a bit of digging ourselves into how something as simple as choosing the right PC can have a positive effect on your work environment.

“Sound affects us psychologically, cognitively and behaviourally, even though we're not aware of it" - Julian Treasure, CEO The Sound Agency.

Our brains have to deal with mind-boggling amounts of stimuli every second, and noise in particular can be extremely distracting. Studies have shown that concentration is directly affected by sudden loud noises, as you would expect, but also continual low-level noise such as traffic or the hum of machinery.

We may think we can effectively ‘block out’ these background noises, but this requires our brain to work much harder, and can lead to mental exhaustion without us even realizing it.

Two-thirds of office spaces are open-plan

Open-plan offices became hugely fashionable in the later part of the 20th Century, and is still the preferred format for many companies today. While the ‘democratic’ layout seems ideal, it’s practically impossible to control the level of noise pollution in an open-plan office.

busy open plan office

Any noise made by a single work station (talking on the phone, whirring of computer fans, tapping on a keyboard) is of course multiplied many times over a whole floor of desks. It’s a fact that workers in open-plan offices take 70% more sick days than home workers; a statistic that some experts have linked to the high level of noise in their workplaces.

The average PC generates between 30 – 50 decibels of noise

This upper level is the same as a refrigerator, and isn’t far off the sound of a lawn mower at 10m. Certainly loud enough to be distracting, especially if there’s a room full of them! There are many individual parts that contribute to the overall noise of a PC, but most of the noise is generated by the fan. Therefore, it makes sense to choose a PC with a fan that runs at the minimal level of noise, or even better, choose a PC without a fan.


References:

Julian Treasure: The 4 ways sound affects us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRepnhXq33s

http://www.hrreview.co.uk/hr-news/wellbeing-news/workers-in-offices-took-more-sick-days-than-home-workers/51656

https://blogs.windows.com/devices/2014/09/30/productivity-sound-like/#Zb0PerGm2ZXsLYPj.97

https://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2015/oct/15/history-office-open-small-business-workplaces