A preliminary study of cognitive failures in open plan offices

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Journal Article

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Purdey, B., & Leifer, D. (2012). A preliminary study of cognitive failures in open plan offices. Facilities, 30 (11/12), 472- 487.

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2012 HERDC submission. FoR code: 120200

© Copyright Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2012




The purpose of this paper is to describe the application of a new method using instruments with increased ability to objectively assess and quantify the performance impacts on office workers in built environment settings. A Distractibility Index (DI) was calculated for sample employees, who then used a computer-based instrument in two settings to evaluate cognitive impairment. There was measured cognitive impairment in higher distracting work environments. There is potential to use DI to predict performance detriments and aid better workplace design/management. The study employed only a small sample size. The level of noise and other distractions in the settings studied need to be measured objectively. There is a need to differentiate between various sources of distraction in terms of their impact on cognitive impairment. The findings of this paper can help to improve workplace performance, with less reliance on physical design solutions. Workplace performance evaluations typically use subjective measures and self-assessments. Modern work is increasingly cognitive, and hence new computer-based and more objective tools are required. The tool used in this research has been highly validated in other applications.

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This document has been peer reviewed.