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

Summary

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: Personality; Productivity; Individual differences; Employee characteristics; Psychoacoustics; Acoustic comfort
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Contributors:
Academic units: Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) > Academic Departments > Department of the Natural and Built Environment
Funders:
Funder NameGrant NumberFunder ID
Innovate UKUNSPECIFIED
Copyright Holders: Sheffield Hallam University, Mitie plc
Publisher of the data: SHU Research Data Archive (SHURDA)
Publication date: 9 September 2019
Data last accessed: No data downloaded yet
DOI: http://doi.org/10.17032/shu-180014
SHURDA URI: http://shurda.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/112

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