Impact of noise on self-rated job satisfaction and health in open-plan offices: a structural equation modelling approach

Ergonomics. 2016;59(2):222-34. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2015.1066877. Epub 2015 Sep 14.


This study uses a structural equation model to examine the effects of noise on self-rated job satisfaction and health in open-plan offices. A total of 334 employees from six open-plan offices in China and Korea completed a questionnaire survey. The questionnaire included questions assessing noise disturbances and speech privacy, as well as job satisfaction and health. The results indicated that noise disturbance affected self-rated health. Contrary to popular expectation, the relationship between noise disturbance and job satisfaction was not significant. Rather, job satisfaction and satisfaction with the environment were negatively correlated with lack of speech privacy. Speech privacy was found to be affected by noise sensitivity, and longer noise exposure led to decreased job satisfaction. There was also evidence that speech privacy was a stronger predictor of satisfaction with environment and job satisfaction for participants with high noise sensitivity. In addition, fit models for employees from China and Korea showed slight differences.

Practitioner summary: This study is motivated by strong evidence that noise is the key source of complaints in open-plan offices. Survey results indicate that self-rated job satisfaction of workers in open-plan offices was negatively affected by lack of speech privacy and duration of disturbing noise.

Keywords: health; job satisfaction; noise; open-plan office; structural equation model.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Facility Design and Construction / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Noise, Occupational*
  • Privacy / psychology
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workplace / organization & administration
  • Workplace / psychology*
  • Young Adult