Helena Jahncke from sweden concludes in her recently finished thesis “Cognitive Performance and Restoration in Open-Plan Office Noise” that open plan office noise lowers performance and increases fatigue.
– We have seen that performance deteriorates 2-10 percent if it is possible to understand what colleagues in the background say than if the number is not detectable, says Helena Jahncke. How much performance deteriorates depends on the task being performed, that is, the cognitive processes required for the task.
Helena’s conclusions combined with what Rachel Emma Silverman wrote in her article in the wall street journal: “Office workers are interrupted—or self-interrupt—roughly every three minutes, academic studies have found, with numerous distractions coming in both digital and human forms. Once thrown off track, it can take some 23 minutes for a worker to return to the original task” – this really puts concerns about open plan offices, interruptions and noise problems, on the agenda.
Read more about Helenas thesis here