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How Does Noise Affect Productivity in the Office?

A report on the psychological approach to resolving office noise distraction by Paige Hodsman and Dr Nigel Oseland.

Noise is one of the top causes of dissatisfaction and loss of productivity in the workplace. In today’s varied and diverse office environments, it is more important more than ever to create spaces that are acoustically appropriate and supportive of the people who work there. Unwanted noise can result in annoyance, heightened stress levels and reduced performance; therefore it is critical that we understand not only how people perceive sound in the workplace but also how this affects their health, wellbeing and performance.


Many architectural acousticians have a physics or engineering background, and their approach to mitigating noise is mostly, but not entirely, focused on purely physical solutions.  The demands of 21st-century workplaces often calls for a more rounded approach, with experts working together to offer a combined psychological, physiological and physical solution to acoustic problems.


In a recent whitepaper, Paige Hodsman of Saint-Gobain Ecophon and Dr Nigel Oseland, a leading workplace strategist, reviewed over 100 research papers to explore how people are affected by office noise. Their review found that along with the levels of noise, factors such as personality, attitude, type of task and work activity have much to do with how well individuals perform in different acoustic settings. The authors then explored how adopting a psychoacoustic approach can help designers to take into account personalities and working styles and preferences when designing the appropriate acoustic working environment.

The authors propose that resolving noise distraction in the workplace is critical in the creation of an effective work space. The office layout and design should be based on a psychoacoustic, people-centred approach, focussing on perception, attitudes, mood, personality and behaviour in relation to noise and sound


This report is aimed at people who are interested in resolving noise issues in workplaces, particularly offices, including: workplace strategists, acousticians, architects and interior designers, facilities managers, property developers, occupants and heads of business.

Following the publication of the report, Hodsman and Oseland have developed a selection of supporting tools for the application of this approach. For more information on the whitepaper, please click here.


  1. the article is very apt in todays work places in all sectors . An awareness and importance of the acoustics which is an integral part of the interior design should be the mandate for the future of design community.

    RAMESH | 10 months ago | Reply

  2. Apptneraly this is what the esteemed Willis was talkin’ ’bout.

    Kaden | 9 months ago | Reply

  3. Great article! We really enjoyed reading this. We have also recently created a similar article on productivity which might be of interest to you. Please find this here:
    Hope you find this useful. Thank you.

    Aarti Ohri | 5 months ago | Reply

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