Acoustic comfort is one of the most influential aspects of employees’ health and well-being. It belongs to one of the seven categories of wellness called concepts (air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind), with which WELL certification guarantees the health of people living in buildings.
In offices, noise derives from different sources, such as external noise pollution, traffic or nearby construction work, electronic devices like computers, printers, or air conditioning and ventilation systems. However, the most common source of poor acoustics is frequent or constant distraction coming from conversations. When employees are distracted, they are less productive, make more errors, they are less satisfied in their work and as a result irritability and stress levels are increased. The Wall Street Journal recently cited a study found that once distracted, it can take 23 minutes for the average employee to regain concentration on a task.
The creative and collaborative nature of the new ways of working have given rise in recent years to much more flexible offices that include the latest facilities such as collaboration areas, flexible workstations, biophilic design, and connected building technology. While these spaces are appealing from a visual point of view, an important question is whether spaces that combine concentration and collaboration areas achieve acoustic comfort.