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Effect of variation in noise absorption in open-plan office: A field study with a cross-over design
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute. Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stress Research Institute.
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2015 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Psychology, ISSN 0272-4944, E-ISSN 1522-9610, Vol. 44, 34-44 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Noise has repeatedly been shown to be one of the most recurrent reasons for complaints in open-plan office environments. The aim of the present study was to investigate if enhanced or worsened sound absorption in open-plan offices is reflected in the employees' ratings of disturbances, cognitive stress, and professional efficacy. Employees working on two different floors of an office building were followed as three manipulations were made in room acoustics on each of the two floors by means of less or more absorbing tiles & wall absorbents. For one of the floors, the manipulations were from better to worse to better acoustical conditions, while for the other the manipulations were worse to better to worse. The acoustical effects of these manipulations were assessed according to the new ISO-standard (ISO-3382-3, 2012) for open-plan rooms acoustics. In addition, the employees responded to questionnaires after each change. Our analyses showed that within each floor enhanced acoustical conditions were associated with lower perceived disturbances and cognitive stress. There were no effects on professional efficiency. The results furthermore suggest that even a small deterioration in acoustical room properties measured according to the new ISO-standard for open-plan office acoustics has a negative impact on self-rated health and disturbances. This study supports previous studies demonstrating the importance of acoustics in work environments and shows that the measures suggested in the new ISO-standard can be used to adequately differentiate between better and worse room acoustics in open plan offices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 44, 34-44 p.
Keyword [en]
open-plan offices, noise, distraction, health, performance, office type
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Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-123227DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2015.08.004ISI: 000366785000004Local ID: P-3327OAI: diva2:872425

This study was made possible by a grant from Ecophon Saint-Gobain (SU-331- who also installed the sound absorbing material and hired a consulting firm, Tyréns, to make the acoustical measurements in according to ISO-standards 3382-3:2012. Neither Ecophon nor Tyréns were involved in collecting the surveys on which our main analyses are based. Before the study was initiated Ecophon accepted that the researchers would publish the findings even if the results went in the other direction than expected, meaning that Ecophon had no saying in the academic procedures even if the results could be perceived as harmful for their cause. We would also like to thank the employees at Sundbyberg Municipality who enabled this study.

Available from: 2015-11-18 Created: 2015-11-18 Last updated: 2016-02-09Bibliographically approved

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Seddigh, AramBerntson, ErikJönsson, Fredrik U.Bodin Danielsson, ChristinaWesterlund, Hugo
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Stress Research InstituteDepartment of Psychology
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