Noise and concentration
This issue most commonly affects open plan working areas, which first became popular in the 1960s. Most companies and organisations now utilise open plan design as the layout offers ease of communication for team working and sharing resources, and is of course cost saving.
As this culture has developed the clever use of space and materials has evolved, but often to the detriment of the acoustic comfort. Constant noise and distraction in an open plan office can be very unpleasant but the actual sound levels when measured are often low. One major misconception by designers, engineers and architects is that quiet is good so air handling units, printers and other electronics have all got quieter. However this creates an environment in which the human voice seems louder and travels further, interrupting more people.
When planning open plan work areas, the solution is to create a balanced background sound level, reducing any distracting spikes in noise, whilst preventing the levels from dropping too low.