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Asia Noise News Building Accoustics

Feeling Unproductive? You Might be Overlooking This Productivity Killer

Feeling Unproductive in Office – Geonoise Instruments

We believe that the best way to be highly productive is to be able to get into our monoideal state. Josh Kaufman says in his book “The Personal MBA”:

Monoidealism is the state of focusing your energy and attention only on one thing. It’s often called a “flow” state: clear, focused attention on one subject for a long period of time.”

For this to happen, potential distractions and interruptions need to be eliminated. This is the reason for some people, working early in the morning or late at night can feel very productive – because on a normal day, no one is going to call you at 4 in the morning.

However, most of us do our work in an office which does not operate at those silent, undistracted hours. The good news is, we still can manage our potential distractions by knowing what distracts us the most. This can be done by allocating a time when you want to be in your monoideal state and free yourself from distractions during that time. For example, you can put your phone into flight mode and turning off email notifications from 8 to 11 and start to check emails and communicating with the outside world from 11 until lunch. The timing will depend a lot on the type of work you are doing and how much time will you need to be in monoideal state.

Unfortunately, there are things that is out of your locus of control – there is a retrofitting job upstairs, your co-worker decided to sing along to the song he is listening to, people in the other room are laughing loudly (are they talking about their boss?) and so on. If it’s not in front of your eyes, for example pop-up notifications on your screen, most of the distractions come to you in a form of sound, or I think it’s better to call it “noise”.

Noise is a productivity killer that you might be overlooking, especially if you have passed the stage of being distracted by your phone, browsing Facebook on your computer and looking at cat videos on Youtube. Fortunately, noise is manageable in a few different ways. The most viable option for an existing office is to make noise-related rules and to make everybody aware that noise can reduce their productivity. For example, companies can make rules that retrofitting job, singing and gossiping must be done outside of office hour. Another way to fix this is to separate areas for people who want to be focused and areas where people can socialize and discuss with their co-workers.

The best way to manage noise? Is to take noise into consideration from the beginning of the design process of the working space. This can be a long and complex process where there are a lot of aspects to be considered in designing an ideal office. It needs a balance between visual pleasure, company’s philosophy, functionality, health, safety and all other aspects that we want to take into account. A lot of times, all those aspects will relate to noise or acoustics in some ways, depending on each unique case.

For us acousticians, these are the things that we typically think about when helping others to design their working space (and actually any other built environment):

  • Ambient noise: We want the noise level inside of the working space to be reasonably low, whether it is intrusion from outside such as traffic, railway, aircraft and neighbouring building (neighbour’s mechanical system can be quite noisy), or the noise from inside the building such as HVAC system and lifts.
  • Sound insulation: We don’t want to hear sound that we don’t want to hear from the next room, upstairs or downstairs. By designing a suitable ceiling, flooring and wall systems, a sufficient sound insulation can be achieved.
  • Room acoustics: We want to be able to listen comfortably and understand verbal information that we want to. This is critical especially in meeting rooms and event space.
  • Sound reinforcement and public address system: We want the sound reinforcement and public address system to be heard clearly while not disturbing others who don’t want to hear it.

All the above can also be done after the building and the working space is built. But if it’s done before it’s built, you will have a lot more options and be more cost efficient rather than changing what is already been built.

So, if you are a highly productive person, or if you want to become one, we would suggest you to consider noise in choosing the space you are working in.

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Asia Noise News

Japan: Residents near Futenma base in Okinawa win ¥754 million in damages over noise

NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – The Okinawa branch of the Naha District Court ordered the government on Thursday to pay some ¥754 million in damages to residents near the Futenma air base because of aircraft noise.

Some 2,200 plaintiffs who live close to the controversial U.S. base in Ginowan complained of mental distress, poor sleep and disruption to their daily lives.

In seeking about ¥1 billion in damages from the central government, they also said they feared aircraft crashes, according to lawyers representing the plaintiffs and their lawsuit.

“The noise damage suffered by the plaintiffs is serious and widespread,” presiding Judge Satoshi Hikage said in the ruling, adding that the court found that the damage reached an unacceptable level.

The judge acknowledged that the base serves the interest of the people in the country, and that it can only be served with the sacrifice of a minority of people. But he said that does not mean they should accept the damage. The use of the air base by the U.S. military therefore “violates the rights of the plaintiffs.”

The ruling comes as Japan and the United States are seeking to move Futenma to a less densely populated area further north on Okinawa Island and return the land at Ginowan to Japanese control. Local opposition is running high, however, and many people in Okinawa want the base moved outside the prefecture altogether.

“I’m relieved that damages were awarded,” said Sogi Ganaha, a plaintiff in the suit who lives about 300 meters from the base. “Whenever I hear the roaring of a helicopter circling above my head, I remember the war 70 years ago. I’ve wanted to get compensated for my daily suffering.”

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, an opponent of the plan to relocate Futenma within the prefecture, hailed the ruling as “meaningful.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga argued the government had failed to fully explain its arguments to the court.

“We will adequately deal with this after coordination among the ministries and agencies concerned,” he said at a news conference.

The suit follows a similar one filed by local residents in October 2002. In that case, the Fukuoka High Court ordered the government in July 2010 to pay about ¥369 million in damages to the plaintiffs. But it rejected their plea to suspend early morning and evening flights.

The latest suit was filed in 2012 by individuals who were not plaintiffs in the earlier case.

During the trial, the government sought an exemption and to reduce the sum of compensation, arguing that some of the plaintiffs had moved to the area knowing that an air base existed there, and that the government had taken measures to reduce noise, such as funding noise abatement work on homes.

The plaintiffs’ damages were reduced as the court recognized that the government’s noise abatement measures had been effective, to some extent.

The court also dismissed the claims of around 80 plaintiffs who lived in areas where the noise level is below 75 on the Weighted Equivalent Continuous Perceived Noise Level, or WECPNL, an internationally recognized index for aircraft noise.

The decision was in line with the 2010 Fukuoka High Court ruling, in which the WECPNL of 75 or above formed the benchmark for ordering government compensation.

The court did not acknowledge the suffering the plaintiffs said was caused by low-frequency sounds from helicopters, citing a lack of evidence.