The effect of sound on office productivity

Cheuk Ming Mak, Y. P. Lui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports the results of a questionnaire survey examining the effects of sound on office productivity and assessing the relationship between changes in office productivity and noise sources as well as five environmental and office design factors, namely temperature, air quality, office layout, sound and lighting. The convenience sample for the survey comprised 259 office workers in 38 air-conditioned offices in Hong Kong. The subjects were requested to complete the questionnaires themselves. The results show that among the five environmental and office design factors examined, sound and temperature were the principal factors affecting office productivity. A strong and significant correlation was also found between changes in office productivity and sound, temperature and office layout. Participants were separated into low- and high-productivity groups using the mean productivity score of all participants as the cut-point. The three most annoying noise sources, including conversation, ringing phones and machines, differed little in mean annoyance scores for the low- and high-productivity participants, indicating that they had a significant negative impact on all participants. The results also indicate that low-productivity participants were easily influenced by noises such as background noise, closing doors, and human activity, as well as those coming from both inside and outside the office.Practical applications: This study evaluates the effects of sound and other environmental and office design factors on office productivity. It suggests that sound is a principal factor affecting office productivity in modern air-conditioned offices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-345
Number of pages7
JournalBuilding Services Engineering Research and Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction


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