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People-centred offices A psychological approach to resolving office noise distraction


  • Nigel Oseland
  • Yvette Tietema


Noise is one of the top causes of dissatisfaction and loss of productivity in the workplace. This paper / report will take a fresh inspiring approach on how to resolve the noise (negative) issue becoming a sound (positive) subject.Sound waves are known to induce a range of physical, physiological and psychological effects in humans. It is also widely accepted that unwanted sound – noise – affects people’s health and wellbeing, mental state and performance in many ways.The psychological impact of noise is the main cause of concern in office environments. In offices, noise can result in annoyance, heightened stress levels and reduced performance.Traditionally, control of noise in buildings falls into the domain of acousticians – experts concerned with the properties of sound. Although it is widely recognized that acoustics is an interdisciplinary science, many architectural acousticians have a physics or engineering background and their approach to mitigating noise is mostly, but not entirely, focused on physical solutions.But the demands of 21st-century workplaces call for a more rounded approach, with experts working together to offer a combined psychological, physiological and physical solution to acoustic problems. This report therefore offers a fresh outlook to resolving noise distraction in the workplace based on a psychoacoustic, people-centered approach, focusing on perception, attitudes, mood, personality and behavior. The report is predominantly based on a literature review, with more emphasis on psychophysical research papers than pure acoustic ones.The report is aimed at people who are interested in resolving noise issues in workplaces, particularly offices, including: acousticians, architects and interior designers, facilities managers, property developers, occupants and heads of business. It begins with a review of the theoretical aspects of noise, relating to acoustics, psychoacoustics and psychology, then discusses how this knowledge can be used to create people-centered work environments based around four key factors: task and work activity; context and attitude; perceived control and predictability; and personality and mood.Based on our research findings we have developed a toolkit to help us create better acoustic working environments and understanding in the design / facility management phase.

Suggested Citation

  • Nigel Oseland & Yvette Tietema, 2017. "People-centred offices A psychological approach to resolving office noise distraction," ERES eres2017_106, European Real Estate Society (ERES).
  • Handle: RePEc:arz:wpaper:eres2017_106

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    More about this item


    Noise; People Centered working environment; Performance; personality; Psychoacoustic;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • R3 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location


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