J. Mardex / Auditory, visual, and physical distractions in the workplace (2004)
Auditory, visual, and physical distractions in the workplace.
Justin MardexCornell University, Department of Design and Environmental Analysis
: Acoustics; Auditory distraction; Draught; Open offices; Speechprivacy; Visual distraction; Workplace designThis paper focuses on various types of distractions in the workplace thatmay impede employee concentration, as this is a commonly proposedpitfall of open office environments. Here is summarized a selection of findings from recent academic works regarding distractions in theworkplace. Research indicates that acoustical distractions are the mosttroublesome, and that speech intelligibility plays a central role in howdistracting a noise is. While there is little past research about visual andother physical sources of distraction, this analysis attempt to provide abasic conceptual understanding of what is known about other types of workplace distraction. Findings of recent studies indicate that visualdistractions may be more difficult to recover from than auditorydistractions, and that draught is the most distracting of climactic factors inthe workplace. Consideration is given to the current processes employedto combat distractions. Special attention is paid to the open officeenvironments that define the typical workplace of today.
The advent of the open office has altered the fundamental structure of what constitutes atypical work environment so greatly it could, quite reasonably, be comparable inmagnitude to the industrial revolution of the 18
century. While the nature of thechanges in physical workplace environments during these two transitional periods arequite different, they are products of similar economic propulsions towards efficiency: andin keeping with the industrial revolution, today’s shift toward open offices has broughtabout a myriad of concerns regarding the present efficiency-centric state of workplaceenvironments.Many incongruities between user and workplace environment are obvious, asthere are examples everywhere in daily work-life. The ability for an individual to make aphone call without interruption, hold a private meeting, concentrate on a reclusive task, or