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Consideration of objective measures of performance and subjective assessments under background speech in open-plan offices

: Hawighorst, Maren; Liebl, Andreas

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Griefahn, B.:
10th International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem, ICBEN 2011 : London, United Kingdom, 24-28 July 2011
Red Hook, NY: Curran, 2011 (Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics Vol.33, Nr.3)
ISSN: 1478-6095
ISBN: 978-1-61839-079-0
International Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem (ICBEN) <10, 2011, London>
Conference Paper, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IBP ()

Short-term memory performance is important for activities in office environments and has effects on the efficiency of a company and employees' productivity. Negative effects of background speech on short-term memory performance have been shown in several laboratory studies (e.g. Banbury & Berry 1998). The Speech Transmission Index (STI) is considered to be a suitable physical set value to predict the decline of performance (Hongisto 2005). However, the impact on subjective aspects such as perceived workload is rarely considered. It already has been shown that subjective assessment like disturbance and objectively measured performance do not necessarily match (e.g. Schlittmeier et al. 2008). Employees may be able to compensate for performance effects by an increase of effort but in turn perceived workload may increase (e.g. Yeh & Wickens 1988). In addition, a lack of perceived privacy, caused by background speech (among other factors) can influence mental workload and pe rformance (e.g. Croon et al. 2005). This effect may not be immediately visible, but must be considered in the long term with respect to a decline of job dissatisfaction, which can cause absenteeism and even job termination. To avoid these consequences an exclusive focus on the loss of performance is not sufficient. Therefore the reported results consider both the effects of background speech varying in intelligibility (STI) to objective and subjective measures. It is shown that subjective assessments, e.g. of workload, disturbance, territoriality as well as privacy and objective measures of performance correlate with the STI.