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Title: The optimum form for acoustics : a study of the relationship between office designs and noise
Author: Jahangeer, Farrah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5917 2085
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: Glasgow School of Art
Date of Award: 2015
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This study investigates the relationship between office designs, acoustic measures and employee satisfaction. Cellular workspaces tend to have low noise disturbances which have been previously associated with enhanced employee satisfaction in past studies but the relationship between varying office size and employee satisfaction is unknown in cellular offices. The increase in size of open-plan workspaces generally implies an increase in occupancy and noise level because more noise disturbances tend to occur due to increase in office activities. But the increase in size of open-plan spaces also implies an increase in reverberation time because the latter is directly proportional to volume of space. The aim of this study is to provide some indication of workspace sizes for different office types that are related to acoustic measures and employee satisfaction and can be used during early design stages of office developments. In this study, acoustic measures are comprised of two indicators: 1) noise level which indicates the intensity of background noise in the workplace and 2) reverberation time which reflects the acoustic quality of the workspace. Two common office types are investigated in this study – cellular and open-plan workspaces and the formulated hypotheses for each office type are as follows: i) Hypothesis A: the increase in workspace floor areas will be associated with a decrease in values of at least one indicator of acoustic measures and with an increase in employee satisfaction in cellular workspaces and ii) Hypothesis B: the increase in workspace floor areas will be associated with an increase in values of at least one indicator of acoustic measures and a decrease in employee satisfaction in open-plan workspaces. A cross-sectional research framework was adopted in this study to investigate the association between workspace floor area, acoustic measures and employee satisfaction in cellular offices and open-plan offices with the following occupancy levels: 1) less than 10 employees, 2) between 10 and 25 employees and 3) more than 25 employees. The study made use of both objective and subjective data to correlate employee perception with physical work environment. Subjective data consisted of acoustic and work performance satisfaction ratings acquired from questionnaire survey and objective data consisted of noise levels, and reverberation time and workspaces areas. Furthermore, the study also investigated the differences in noise perception in contrasting countries and two samples were collected; one from UK (Glasgow) and another from Mauritius. Results from correlation analysis for Glasgow sample indicated that there were coherent associations between workspace floor areas, acoustic measures and employee satisfaction in all open-plan categories but not in cellular offices. The creation of a visual index in open-plan workspaces further supported the aforementioned associations when making use of shape descriptors in the detailed analysis of Glasgow sample. Certain similarities and differences were observed between Glasgow and Mauritius sample thereby eliminating the expectations that all workspaces in the investigated office categories in a developing country had inferior values of acoustic measures. The study here has a cross-sectional framework but a longitudinal one is considered to be more revealing especially when investigating noise perception in relation to the visual index, noise geometry. More cross-cultural studies focusing on noise in the workplace are required to further develop appropriate guidelines in varying cultures.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available