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Noise and Open Office Work Environments

Noise and Open Office Work Environments

Design of office spaces has moved from traditional private office layouts to “open office” layouts. While the increasing costs of business real estate and the lack of available space are key factors that drive the shift to an open office, employers also cite the potential for greater interaction and collaboration among employees as a potential benefit of open office designs.

However, research has found that noise disturbances and a loss of conversation privacy are problems that may outweigh any benefits gained through collaboration. Noise disturbances can be an annoyance for employees. Noise can come from movement of nearby employees and their furniture/workstations, office equipment (copiers, printers, etc), and even employee conversations. In fact, employee surveys indicate that noise associated with nearby conversations are a significant impediment to productivity.

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