Open-plan offices and call centres are often challenging places to work. Such spaces can be densely populated and a combination of reverberant conditions and inadequate screening between desks can lead to high noise levels. In the short term this can be simply distracting but in the longer term can lead to widespread employee dissatisfaction, health problems and a high rate of staff turnover. There are no statutory acoustic requirements for offices and few widely-recognised standard acoustic criteria for open-plan offices and call centres. Such spaces therefore requires a flexible and innovative approach to acoustic design, measurement and assessment.
The size and shape of large open-plan offices and call centres often means that these do not behave as diffuse reverberant volumes. Specialised acoustic computer modelling is therefore required to assess the effect of acoustic finishes and screening on noise propagation throughout the space. We of course have extensive experience of computer modelling using CATT-Acoustic and have used this in the design of a number of open-plan offices.
We have also undertaken a large number of acoustic assessments of call centres for major national clients, including measurement of telephone and headset audio levels using our artificial ear rig, which we have used to assess speech intelligibility and compliance with Noise at Work Regulations for call centre agents throughout the UK.