Acoustic comfort in open-plan offices: the role of employee characteristics

Michael Roskams (Department of the Natural and Built Environment, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Barry Haynes (Department of the Natural and Built Environment, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Pyoung-Jik Lee (Acoustics Research Institute, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Sang-Hee Park (Acoustics Research Institute, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)

Journal of Corporate Real Estate

ISSN: 1463-001X

Publication date: 9 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to determine the extent to which employees’ experiences of acoustic comfort, well-being and productivity in open-plan offices are determined by specific characteristics (including demographic information, task characteristics, and personality traits).

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire was distributed to the occupants of three open-plan office sites and was completed by 166 employees in total.

Findings

The results indicated that acoustic comfort in open-plan offices is largely determined by noise sensitivity. Higher noise sensitivity was associated with more negative ratings of acoustical quality, more perceived disturbance by speech and more difficulties in concentration. More negative experiences were also reported by employees with lower interactivity with colleagues.

Practical implications

There is significant inter-individual variability in experiences of acoustic comfort, well-being and productivity in open-plan offices. As such, workplace practitioners should consider acoustic and behavioural solutions for introducing a greater diversity of functional workspaces within the office, so that employees can choose the most suitable working area for their requirements.

Originality/value

Whereas the majority of past acoustics research has been laboratory-based, this study is conducted in real office environments with a representative sample of knowledge workers.

Keywords

Citation

Roskams, M., Haynes, B., Lee, P. and Park, S. (2019), "Acoustic comfort in open-plan offices: the role of employee characteristics", Journal of Corporate Real Estate, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 254-270. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCRE-02-2019-0011

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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