Are You Affected by Ambient Noise?

Ambient noise is a modern-day scourge. It robs you of your concentration, reduces your productivity, distracts your attention and may even threaten your sanity or your life.

For the business traveller or anyone who simply works in a noisy environment, achieving a little quiet can be a boon for concentration and, therefore, productivity.

The sound of science

Developed originally for the aviation industry to reduce the noise experienced in plane or helicopter cockpits, noise-cancelling headphones use sophisticated audio sampling technology to remove ambient sound from the listener’s audio experience.

Since those first designs in the 1950s, you’ll now find a large range of consumer models to suit almost any setting, work or play. This is great news for anyone wanting to up their game at work or simply perform at their best while travelling.

Professor Stephen O’Leary, Head of ENT Surgery at The University of Melbourne, Royal Victorian Ear and Eye Hospital, believes the impact of ambient noise on overall productivity cannot be underestimated.

“From a medical point of view, a low degree of ambient noise is actually helpful to tell you about your general environment,” said Professor O’Leary.

“But when you get into a situation when those sounds are too loud, we’re talking about disturbing levels of noise.

“The most likely situation is air travel. There are noisy things like baggage movement, and other people and their conversations. Anything that distracts you is very bad for concentration, therefore very bad for clear thinking and planning, and very bad for memory.”

A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health found that background noise – ranging from normal conversation to aircraft movement noise – had a noticeable affect on the study participants, affecting both cognitive learning abilities and stress levels.

For Professor O’Leary, there are a few solutions: “Noise cancelling headphones is one way to deal with this. Noise isolating headphones is also another.”