Manhattan--The sign by the elevator eliminates any possible confusion: No whistling while working in this building! This is a 47-story skyscraper in lower Manhattan, where management has decided to wage war against whistlers after a recently published report showing precipitous declines in work production when employees generate the high-pitched sound while performing job tasks.
Property management agencies throughout the borough vehemently deny mounting pressure from individual tenant companies to ban whistling in order to pass off the possible legal ramifications resulting from such debatable actions.
Nonetheless, the movement is spreading. Just a few blocks west, closer to the Hudson River, the lobby of another building displays a temporary banner reading: This is a Whistling-free Building. (Security guards are quick to point out a more permanent placard has been ordered that will hopefully replace the banner by next week.) A picture on the lower right of the banner shows a pair of lips whistling enclosed in a circle with a thick, red line slashing through the middle.
These are just two office towers adopting the controversial policy, but scores more across the 24-square-mile island have already passed the rule despite protests.
"The Dwarfs were extremely successful," said Dr Lisa Kaplan, the Bryn Mawr College professor placed in charge of the study. "But, what we clearly found is that they were the exception and not the rule. Whistling in the workplace reduced output by twenty-seven to thirty-two percent. I never would have guessed."
More than four hundred workers participated in the study, which took place in three east coast American cities. The margin of error is roughly twelve percent.
One in three American workers whistles while working. This does not mean a constant whistling, but, over the course of an eight-hour work day, the employee will make the piercing sound more than three separate occasions for more than ten seconds each time. This defines whistling while working according to Bryn Mawr.
"You see people listening to music with headphones and having the television on in the background while working. This works for many and can actually improve productivity. However, this is not the case with whistling. I'm sorry to say, but it's just not," continued Kaplan.
"I was definitely disappointed by the report," said Kevin Brewster, 49, a patent lawyer with Cooper-Sinclair on the 27th floor of a Midtown tower, which recently decided to prohibit whistling. "I am a whistler by nature and I'm not ashamed to say so. The new policy has been a difficult adjustment for me and several of my coworkers. I chew lots of gum now."
The Main Line college will begin another study beginning in February, humming in the workplace, if all funding is secured by the end of January.