Open plan office acoustics – one day event


by Jack Harvie-Clark, Apex Acoustics Ltd

We are co-organising and presenting at a one day event on acoustics for open plan offices. This is an exciting and fast-changing area for acoustic design, and acoustic considerations are rapidly gaining the importance that they have for occupants of open plan offices. Office accommodation is increasingly being seen as a service, rather than an asset – it needs to meet the functional, operational and well being needs of the occupants. Achieving suitable acoustic conditions is vital to enable these outcomes. Come to this one day event to learn the cutting edge approaches, tools and techniques to design acoustic conditions with confidence. Learn from participants across the industry, and how we can take a human-centred approach to acoustic design in open plan offices

Apex Acousics has been consulting on and researching acoustics for open plan offices since 2010.  We undertook a commission to advise on the transition of moving from cellular to an open plan arrangement.  The move from cellular to open plan has been the facilities management story of recent times, but there has been a large kick back from people subject to imposing rows of desks.  Noise is typically among the main issues of complaints according to Leesman research.  However, we must be cautious about the approach to noise in open plan offices.

Intolerance and frustration with noise in the workplace can be understood as annoyance that interferes with the ability to concentrate and work effectively.  Annoyance is closely related to the sense of control – the level of control we have over a factor is very significant when determining the level of annoyance induced.  Thus German psycho-acousticians have determined, in one study, that only about 30 – 40 % of the annoyance due to noise can be attributed to acoustic factors.  The predominant portion comes from so-called moderators of annoyance; these include the ability to control the noise, attitude towards the noise-maker, predictability of the noise event, activity profile of the employee, organisational and business structure, including identification with the business, workload, other environmental factors such as illumination and thermal comfort as well as individual noise sensitivity.

The acoustics of open plan offices is about so much more than just the acoustics. It is about the type of activities that are performed – such as individual working, collaborating with colleagues at the desk, or talking on the telephone, for example.  It is about the culture of the workplace, the relationships between people, and individual psychology; it is about the attitude to the organisation; and it is about the other aspects of the environment.

Current programme

0930       Registration and refreshments
0955       Welcome and Introduction
1000       Interior design, psychoacoustics and ways of working, Paige Hodsman, Ecophon
1025       Acoustic modelling of open plan working – challenges and limitations, Ian Rees, Adrian James Acoustics
1050       Refreshments
1120       Modelling, designing and commissioning offices using ISO 3382-3, Richard King and Ben Southgate, Sandy Brown
1145       Soundscaping and speech masking, Mat Hyden and Momo Hoshijima, Cundall 
1210       WSP Birmingham: a case study, James Healey, WSP
1235       Lunch
1330       Open plan offices beyond ISO 3382-3: designing for acoustic satisfaction, Jack Harvie Clark, Apex Acoustics
1355       Towards designing open plan offices for predictable perceptual outcomes, Angus Deuchars Arup
1420       Refreshments
1450       Review of forthcoming ISO 22955 consultation, Andy Parkin, Cundall
1515       Panel Discussion – All speakers
1615       Wrap up and closing remarks
1630       Close

Register by going here