September 2, 2020
Conference Paper

On finding balance between collaborative noise and speech privacy in open offices

John Goins

Abstract

A growing number of businesses are moving towards open-plan offices as a way of encouraging impromptu collaborative problem solving among workers. However, while collaboration increases in open-plan offices, a commensurate increase in general noise can hinder employees that need quieter conditions to prosper. In this paper the effect of conversational noise within an open plan environment are quantified, and the degree to which noise restrictions compromise problem-solving examined. Measurements indicate that the noise from six people talking in a 1,000 sq ft room was sufficient to meet recommended levels under ASHRAE guidelines. This suggests an appropriate density of spontaneous collaborative talk in open offices. Subject surveys also indicated an increase in non-verbal collaboration in later tests, suggesting that with thought and careful design a balance between collaboration and quiet can be obtained.

Revised: September 2, 2020 | Published: July 1, 2019

Citation

Goins J.D. 2019. "On finding balance between collaborative noise and speech privacy in open offices." In Proceedings - Windsor Conference 2014: Counting the Cost of Comfort in a Changing World, April 10-13, 2014, Windsor, UK, 679-687. PNNL-SA-100565.