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REQUIREMENTS

Applicable Standards

There are standards pertaining to offices. Some of those standards are concerned with the ergonomics of the workstation (e.g., how much lighting of the desk, what dimensions of the desk and chair should be chosen) and usually include a few lines regarding the acoustics of the workstation [1], though those lines were usually not drafted by acousticians. Other standards specifically cover the acoustics of offices [2].

A Few Points to Be Considered

Offices

As for any project, everything starts with a program. Basically, there is a cost objective and an available floor area in which a given number of people must be accommodated. In order for the project to be acoustically effective, one must first assess what the user’s needs are. Typically, the following points are likely to be found [3, 4]:

• Several workstations have a need for privacy (e.g., director office, accounting, director meeting room); in addition, they will need an enclosed space for security reasons.

  • • There are individual workers who do not need frequent communication with their colleagues but who need to work without undue disturbance.
  • • There are some small teams whose members interact with each other: While there must be a good intelligibility within the team, other personnel (including those from other teams) should not be unduly disturbed by the frequent talking. Incidentally, the scenario in the restaurant is similar to the one of the open-space office, with the guests’ tables equivalent to a team workstation.
  • • There are also some larger teams occupying a full floor. The problem is then far more complex: While such large teams are often subdivided into smaller units, they usually listen to whatever verbal or simply auditory signal appears; while one does not want undue disturbance from such signals, one does need to perceive them correctly. A good example is the dispatching center (e.g., emergency dispatching, control tower, etc.) where the incoming phone call will be treated by a dedicated worker at a specific workstation while other workers attend to their normal duties, but everyone will be l istening intently in order to assess the relevant available assets to be activated. So, there simultaneously is a need for intelligibility and discretion!
  • • In addition, there often are some potentially noisy pieces of equipment (e.g., computers, printers); last but not least, unless proper precautions have been taken, there might be people using their mobile phones.

Restaurants

Standards pertaining to the acoustics of corporate restaurants are usually taken out from the standards applicable to offices’ auxiliary spaces (e.g., [2]). Looking at a restaurant, one can definitely find a similarity with offices, from individual eaters to small groups and even large tables. Once again, the aim of the exercise is to enable people seated at a table to talk normally without undue hindrance from other groups. While there is no office equipment, there definitely are a few pieces of equipment around, such as the refrigerated displays, the ice or coffee machines, and the exhaust from the preparation area. On top of that, one may have announcements (e.g., “number X, your steak is now ready”) as well as music. Last but not least, there may be some noise coming from the dirty tray conveyor and the cleaning station.

 
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