Some facilities managers will be in the position of adapting existing space to cope with changing needs, while others will be concerned with drawing up specifications for new spaces. Both need practical advice from the acoustician about how to deal with existing problems of speech and noise in rooms. Many offices facing crises in space planning and in staff management are also faced with difficulties concerning speech acoustics, particularly in the areas of speech intelligibility, speech privacy and noise. Research into these aspects of room acoustics by the present author has resulted in an improved approach to measuring the information characteristics of both speech and noise in rooms. A design index is described for predicting the intelligibility of speech and is illustrated by a typical example of conditions in the open plan office. Advice is also needed on the implications of new speech technologies (speech synthesis and speech recognition) on office layout. These new products have already been in everyday use for over 10 years in some office environments and are becoming more commonplace. It is shown that as the new, speech‐driven equipment is taken up, the problems of containing noise in open‐plan spaces will increase, unless speech acoustics in the office is given a new priority.
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