Open-plan office noise increases stress and worsens mood: we’ve measured the effects

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceResearch


[Extract] If you’ve ever felt your noisy open-plan office makes you cranky and sends your heart racing, our new research shows you aren’t imagining it.

Prior to the pandemic 70% of office-based employees worked in open-plan offices. Employee complaints about this design are rife.

Yet there is little experimental research investigating the effects of office noise on things like cognitive performance, physiological stress and mood.

The results of our study, in experimentally controlled conditions using heart rate, skin conductivity and AI facial emotion recognition, shows the effects of that noise are very real.

We’ve found a significant causal relationship between open-plan office noise and physiological stress.

Our results show such noise heightens negative mood by 25% — and these results come from testing participants in an simulated open-plan office for just eight minutes at a time. In a real office, where workers are exposed to noise continuously during the day, we would expect the effects on stress and mood to be even greater.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2021


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