Office noise and employee concentration: identifying causes of disruption and potential improvements

Ergonomics. 2005 Jan;48(1):25-37. doi: 10.1080/00140130412331311390.


A field study assessed subjective reports of distraction from various office sounds among 88 employees at two sites. In addition, the study examined the amount of exposure the workers had to the noise in order to determine any evidence for habituation. Finally, respondents were asked how they would improve their environment (with respect to noise), and to rate examples of improvements with regards to their job satisfaction and performance. Out of the sample, 99% reported that their concentration was impaired by various components of office noise, especially telephones left ringing at vacant desks and people talking in the background. No evidence for habituation to these sounds was found. These results are interpreted in the light of previous research regarding the effects of noise in offices and the 'irrelevant sound effect'.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Environment, Controlled
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise, Occupational / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Office Management*
  • United Kingdom
  • Workplace / psychology