Office acoustics


Studies have shown that nearly 70% of employees are dissatisfied with noise levels in the office. Each time a staff member is distracted by unwanted noise, they need up to 15 minutes to refocus on their work. There is no such thing as ‘multitasking’. Effectively, a person is able to focus on one task at a time. Many office workers cannot stay focused on their jobs in open spaces, which causes tension and stress. The problem is not just the noise level itself, but the conversations surrounding them. Human-beings, as a species, are programmed to listen to each other. Whenever we hear a conversation, our brain automatically tries to hear it and interpret what the speakers are talking about. Thus, when staff in our surroundings talk, they simply disturb us and cause us to lose our focus.


All Hushoffice acoustic pods are tested to ISO 23351-1:2020, which specifies the speech level reduction in telephone booths, work pods and other acoustic office furniture ensembles and enclosures.  According to this standard, a value called ‘speech level reduction’ is calculated, denoted as DS,A (decibels/dB). When tested to the indicated standard, an office pod is assigned an appropriate class, denoted with a capital letter. The class corresponds to a respective speech reduction level, which ensures proper acoustic comfort. The table below shows the classification system according to this standard. It shows that an acoustic office booth must reduce sound levels by at least 25 decibels/dB to ensure speech privacy in a typical office.

Class Level of speech reduction (DS,A) Ensured speech privacy?
A 30–33 decibels/dB Yes
A 25–30 decibels/dB Yes
C 20–25 decibels/dB Depending on the level of background noise
D 15–20 decibels/dB Depending on the level of background noise
Unclassified acoustic booths < 15 decibels/dB No

STC? NIC? ISO 23351-1:2020? Acoustic partition and office pod ratings explained

Office privacy pods, soundproof partitions, and other open-plan noise solutions often have NIC and STC ratings. And booths, specifically, are now being rated against ISO 23351-1:2020 — a new standard. What do these ratings mean? We’ve recapped office acoustics 101 to make sense of all three.

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The average speech volume is 60-75 dB. A Class B booth reduces speech levels by up to 30 dB. As a result, only about 30 dB of the sound produced in the booth is let out of the booth into the open floor. It is the level of a human whisper, so you can feel at ease during any conversation in the Hushoffice booths. In most cases, office noise caused by routine activities is at least 40 dB, and often as much as 50 dB. In such conditions, the “whisper” that escapes from the booth during conversations will be masked by the office ambient noise. What you say in the acoustic booth will not be heard or understood by anyone in the open office space outside the Hushoffice booth.

How does an office pod work?


Research shows that more than 67% of office workers experience decreased accuracy doing their work because of office noise, more than 40% are unable to fully conduct their work, 30% experience decreased productivity and more than 64% experience discomfort due to noise caused by calls and conversations.

Average manager salary in Poland  12 500 zł
Average number of distractions generated by excessive noise minimum 6 (6 x 15 min = 90 min)
Reduction in 1 employee’s daily efficiency around 19%
Financial loss incurred for 1 employee monthly ~2 375 zł
Financial loss incurred for 1 employee annually ~28 500 zł
Financial loss incurred for 100 employees annually 2 850 000 zł
Financial loss incurred for 250 employees annually 4 275 000 zł

Noise: the silent productivity killer in the workplace

What role does office noise play in workplace stress? How does stress impact an employee’s productivity over the long run? What easy, affordable remedies can organizations implement today to make their office quieter? Our blog post tells all.

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