1 Department of Civil Engineering, Technical University of Denmark2 Section for Indoor Environment, Department of Civil Engineering, Technical University of Denmark3 National Research Center for Working Environment
Objective: Noise in open-plan offices may increase mental fatigue of the employees at the end of the day. Measurements: 225 employees completed a screening questionnaire. Of these, 50 persons (33 females) who normally worked in open-plan offices agreed to participate in the experiment. All who participated completed two counter balanced experimental sessions, one with exposure to simulation of office noise (Leq=55 dB(A)) and one without noise (Leq=50 dB(A)). To simulate a workday, each session lasted about 7 hours, where the participants engaged in different computerised work tasks. Before and after each simulated workday, the participants performed different tests, including Choice Reaction Time (CRT) test, Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) test, and a Two-Back Task (TBT) test. Results: Working in noise did not affect the number of correct trials in the cognitive test after work. Yet, there were differences in performance between subgroups that were defined with respect to the degree of disturbance to noise they experienced in their normal work conditions. Conclusion: There were no signs of increased mental fatigue during the experimental sessions. However, there were slight differences in test performance between groups reporting being disturbed by noise for more or less than 50% of the time in their normal open office environment.