Office Initiative

Cost-effective office space and healthy, performance-enhancing working environments

© Fraunhofer IBP
Logo of the Office Initiative.

The Office Initiative is an interdisciplinary network of office operators, investors, office designers, planners, manufacturing companies and associations that develops innovative solutions for modern working environments in dialog with research. Our aim is to create cost-efficient office space as well as healthy, performance-enhancing working environments.


Films of the Office Initiative

Network Office Initiative
© Fraunhofer IBP
The network and its members profit mutually.
Monetization calculator of the Office Initiative.
© Fraunhofer IBP
Calculation tool of the Office Initiative.

We use our knowledge to design better office space

In order to create cost-effective yet healthy, performance-enhancing working environments, the Office Initiative first  identifies the requirements people have of office buildings. It then goes on to develop methodological, organizational and technological solutions and finally validates and demonstrates the results. In the process, we search for answers to the following interdisciplinary questions:

  • What does the office of tomorrow look like?
  • How can an office be designed to meet people‘s needs?
  • How must office space be equipped in order to be profitable and rented out a long-term basis?
  • How should the interface between the building (investor) and interior fittings (user) be designed in order to create healthy and performance-enhancing workplaces?
  • Which measures are needed to find a balance between the cost-effective use of space and the productivity of office workers?
  • How can good levels of concentration and communication at the workplace be achieved at the same time?
  • How can solutions be monetized?

We share our expertise and offer partners added value

Partners of the Office Initiative benefit through ideas for planning and processes, impulses for product features and market positions, as well as from a unique knowledge lead. We offer:

  • three partner meetings per year, changing venues between partners each time
  • comprehensive database with lectures on various topics prepared for members
  • a knowledge lead gained through interdisciplinary research about performance-enhancing office space
  • new impulses from research and practice regarding cost-effective concepts and innovative products for office real estate
  • a direct cooperative exchange between all participants

Performance-enhancing office spaces
© Shutterstock /
Office space should not only be cost-effective but also enhance performance.
Acoustics as a disturbing factor
© Shutterstock / Amble Design
Acoustics can be perceived as a particularly disruptive factor in offices.

17 million people are affected

Almost 20 percent of the population in Germany currently works in offices and people spend a large part of their lives there. This makes it all the more important to create a pleasant and healthy atmosphere.

Dissatisfaction, poor performance and illness are the result

Over the past decade, an average of 2.65 million square meters of office space have been sold very year in Germany. Despite building them in compliance with current standards, office properties often do not meet the needs of modern work requirements. This leads to a sensory overload, loss of privacy, distraction and stress. The consequences are dissatisfaction, more mistakes, poorer work results, increased sick rates and higher staff fluctuation.

Acoustics play a major role

Current international studies show that office users perceive acoustics as a particularly disruptive factor. »Low-level noise« is one cause of growing psychological stress in offices. The increasingly efficient use of space appears to be associated with a poorer work performance due to noise and stress. This problem cannot be solved by rigidly following valid guidelines and adhering to conventional office design.

The method applied by the Office Initative

Office Initiative
© Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images
What influence do individual factors such as speech intelligibility, relative air humidity and light spectrum have on well-being, objective performance and health?
High Performance Indoor Environment-Labor
© Fraunhofer IBP / Benjamin Müller
A peek inside the High Performance Indoor Environment Laboratory.
 Demonstrator Office Initiative
© Fraunhofer IBP
With the demonstrator, research can be carried out on open office structures.

Develop concepts

The first step is to comprehensively identify the use-dependent requirements of office workplaces, such as acoustics, indoor climate, indoor air quality, lighting and colors. This is done by carrying out surveys and measurements in existing properties, as well as by applying psychological and building physics methods in a specially-constructed “High Performance Indoor Environment” laboratory at Fraunhofer IBP. This step is flanked by scientific work on psychological measurement methodology.

How do factors such as speech intelligibility, relative humidity and light spectrum affect our well-being, objective performance and health? Which combined influences occur? For many types of buildings and rooms, concepts are created and established  that combine the health, well-being and performance aspects of office workers with the space, energy and resource efficiency of a property.

In parallel, Fraunhofer IBP works with the partners of the office initiative to develop planning tools and product solutions that meet the dynamic requirements of a modern working environment.

Mobilize the market

Since good acoustics or a pleasant indoor climate are not self-perpetuating, a continuous dialog with the market and its players is called for. This is achieved directly through appearances at trade fairs, conferences and through workshops for the customers of the partners of the initiative. Internet tools and mobile applications supplement these activities. Over the coming years, the »SPIN Bau« on the Fraunhofer Campus in Stuttgart, a new building for office and laboratory use, will enable initial findings to be implemented in prototypes and tried out and experienced in practice.

Media partnerships with a focus on architecture, interior design and real estate, as well as the Fraunhofer Marketing Department, support the Office Initiative. This enables the public to be addressed in a targeted manner.

Operating companies:


BASF SE is a listed chemical company and the world's largest chemical company in terms of sales.

VW Financial Services

Volkswagen Financial Services AG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the VW Group which operates and coordinates the group’s financial services.



Manufacturing companies:


Epos supplies innovative electro-acoustic systems for office environments such as headsets, headphones, microphones and conference systems.


We bring brand and space concepts for our customers worldwide visually to life and provide you with perfectly coordinated solutions. As an innovative service provider and manufacturer of large image formats and a solution-oriented business partner we have developed into manufacturing experts of sound-absorbing interior solutions, especially through acoustic images, acoustic ceiling danglers and partition walls. Functionality and design, customer-specific service from one source. Passion for your ideas.


ESPERO, market leader in the Benelux countries, develops the world’s most flexible and aesthetic interior solutions for challenging projects.


Getzner Textil AG is an internationally active Austrian textile manufacturer based in Bludenz.

Home Office Total

We create safe, healthy and economically intelligent home office workplaces with our unique 360° service.


Innogration GmbH plans and supplies an innovative ceiling system for buildings, in particular for modern office environments.


Die PAN+ARMBRUSTER Büro Glaswände & Trennwände have stood for innovative glass wall and partition wall systems including planning and design for over 10 years.


Since 1908, REGENT has been building luminaires and lighting systems that lead the way in terms of design, function and cost-effectiveness.

Späh Designed Acoustics

Späh Designed Acoustics is part of the Späh Group and specializes in acoustics. They offer acoustic solutions manufactured in Germany, which can be freely designed.

More publications and congress articles

Peer Review Publications

Wadle, L., Neves Pimenta, D. (2020). Studie zur Wirksamkeit von Vollspektrum-LEDs : Einfluss auf Wahrnehmung und Leistung. Licht: Planung, Design, Technik, Handel. 68-75.
[2] Wadle, L., Neves Pimenta, D. (2020). Full spectrum LED Study 1.0. LED professional review. 46-51.
[3] Müller, B., Nolte, A., Wadle, L. (2020). Die akustische Situation in Schwimmbädern und deren Auswirkungen auf Mitarbeitende sowie Besuchende. Fortschritte der Akustik. 458-461.
[4] Vallecillo, G., Anguera, M., Martin, N., Robles, M. J., (2020). Effectiveness of an Acute Care for Elders unit at a long-term care facility for frail older patients with COVID-19. Geriatric nursing.
[5] Dickschen, A., Späh, M. (2020). Fünf Punkte, warum Lärm in Schulen kein Luxusproblem ist. Neubau, Umbau, Sanierung. - Ernst & Sohn, 62-65.
[6] Renz, T., Leistner, P., Liebl, A. (2019). Sound Masking in Büroumgebungen. Personalisierte und konventionelle Systeme können die kognitive Leistung steigern. Bauphysik, 41, 143-150.
[7] Renz, T., Leistner, P., Liebl, A. (2019). Use of energy-equivalent sound pressure levels and percentile level differences to assess the impact of speech on cognitive performance and annoyance perception. Applied Acoustics, 153, 71-77.
[8] Wadle, L., Martin, N., Ziegler, D. (2019). Privacy and personalization: The trade-off between data disclosure and personalization benefit. UMAP 2019 Adjunct Publication of the 27th Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization, 319-324.
[9] Martin, N., Liebl, A. (2018). Wirkung von Nachhall in Bildungsräumen. Bauphysik, 40, 270-275.
[10] Renz, T., Leistner, P., Liebl, A. (2018). The effect of spatial separation of sound masking and distracting speech sounds on working memory performance and annoyance. Acta Acustica united with Acustica, 104, 611-622.
[11] Renz, T., Leistner, P., Liebl, A. (2018). Auditory distraction by speech: Comparison of fluctuating and steady speech-like masking sounds. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America - JASA Express Letters, 144, EL83-EL88.
[12] Renz, T., Leistner, P., Liebl, A. (2018). Auditory distraction by speech: Sound masking with speech-shaped stationary noise outperforms - 5 dB per octave shaped noise. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 143, EL212-EL217.
[13] Renz, T., Leistner, P., Liebl, A. (2018). Effects of the location of sound masking loudspeakers on cognitive performance in open-plan offices: Local sound masking is as efficient as conventional sound masking. Applied Acoustics, 139, 24-33.
[14] Renz, T., Leistner, P., Liebl, A. (2018). Auditory distraction by speech: Can a babble masker restore working memory performance and subjective perception to baseline? Applied Acoustics, 137, 151-160.
[15] Leistner, P., Martin, N. (2018). Befragungs- und Messergebnisse zur Akustik in Hotels. Bauphysik, 40, 262-269.
[16] Zaglauer, M., Drotleff, H., Liebl, A. (2017). Background babble in open-plan offices: A natural masker of disruptive speech? Applied Acoustics, 118, 1-7.
[17] Martin, N., Liebl, A., Weber, L., Dubovski, Z. (2016). Attentive windows - Noise-controlled window ventilation. Proceedings of the Inter-Noise 2016, 4906-4912.
[18] Martin, N., Weber, L., Brandstätt, P., Leistner, P. (2016). Lüften ohne Lärm - Akustische Fenstersteuerung. Lärmbekämpfung, 11, 235-239.
[19] Liebl, A., Zaglauer, M., Martin, N. (2016). More is less - Positive effects of higher volume ventilation sound on cognitive performance and acoustic comfort in offices. Proceedings of the Inter-Noise 2016, 3527-3535.
[20] Liebl, A., Assfalg, A., Schlittmeier, S. (2016). The effects of speech intelligibility and temporal-spectral variability on performance and annoyance ratings. Applied Acoustics, 110, 170-175.
[21] Liebl, A., Martin, N. (2016). Unerhörte Büros. Lärmbekämpfung, 11, 182-187.
[22] Schlittmeier, S., Liebl, A. (2015). Effects of intelligible irrelevant background speech in offices – Cognitive disturbance, annoyance, and solutions. Facilities.


Congress articles

[1] Dickschen, A., Martin, N. (2020). New (Home) Work – Wie die Pandemie unsere Arbeitsleben verändert und was wir daraus lernen können. Stuttgart, Deutschland.
[2] Dickschen, A., Späh, M. (2019). Akustisches Modell zur Planung von (Betriebs-)Restaurants. Stuttgart, Deutschland.
[3] Dickschen, A. (2019). Rote Karte für den Lärm. T+A Trockenbau und Ausbau. Köln, Deutschland.
[4] Dickschen, A. (2019). Monetarisierung der Akustik von Büroflächen. New Work Evolution 2019, 23.-24. Oktober 2019. Karlsruhe, Deutschland.
[5] Müller, B. (2019). Mit Sound Masking gegen den "leisen Lärm" und unzufriedene Beschäftigte in Büroflächen? Wie elektroakustische Maßnahmen die Raumakustik sinn- und wirkungsvoll ergänzen können. Preform Partnertreffen, 10. Oktober 2019. Feuchtwangen, Deutschland.
[6] Müller, B. (2019). Was tun gegen den "leisen Lärm" und unzufriedene Beschäftigte in Büroflächen? Ansätze aus der angewandten Forschung. AcousteX 2019, 01.-02. Oktober 2019. Dortmund, Deutschland.
[7] Müller, B. (2019). Mensch-zentrierte Lösungen zur Gestaltung gesunder, leistungsfördernder Büros. Architectsacademy - Innovation lab meets Kaffeehaus, 24.-25. September 2019. Villingen-Schwenningen und Stuttgart, Deutschland.
[8] Müller, B., Liebl, A., Martin, N. (2019). Influence of active-noise-cancelling headphones on cognitive performance and employee satisfaction in open space offices. 23rd International congress on acoustics, 09.-13. September 2019. Aachen, Germany.
[9] Müller, B., Liebl, A., Martin, N. (2019). Auswirkungen von Active-Noise-Cancelling Kopfhörern auf kognitive Leistungsfähigkeit und Mitarbeiterzufriedenheit im Bürokontext. DAGA 2019 - Fortschritte der Akustik, 18.-21. März 2019. Rostock, Deutschland.
[10] Dickschen, A., Müller, B. (2019). Pegelmodelle zur Planung von (Betriebs-)Restaurants. DAGA 2019 - Fortschritte der Akustik, 18.-21. März 2019. Rostock, Deutschland.
[11] Renz, T. (2019). Personalised sound masking in open offices: a trade-off between annoyance and restoration of working memory performance? Stuttgart, Germany.
[12] Martin, N. (2018). Green Follows Function. Orgatec 2018, 23.-27. October 2018. Cologne, Germany.
[13] Renz, T., Leistner, P., Liebl, A. (2018). A simple model to predict the cognitive performance in distracting background speech. Euronoise 2018 "Reduce noise to improve life", 27.-31. May 2018. Crete, Greece.
[14] Liebl, A., Martin, N., Brandstätt, P. (2018). The rating level: What is it and is it a suitable setvalue for the acoustic quality of office workplaces? Euronoise 2018 "Reduce noise to improve life", 27.-31. May 2018. Crete, Greece.
[15] Dickschen, A., Bertazzoni, R., Liebl, A. (2018). Evaluating room acoustic quality in open-plan offices by adding the distribution of possible source and receiver positions to the simulation. Euronoise 2018 "Reduce noise to improve life", 27.-31. May 2018. Crete, Greece.
[16] Renz, T., Leistner, P., Liebl, A. (2018). Berücksichtigung binauraler Effekte bei der Vorhersage der Leistungsfähigkeit in Büroumgebungen bei Hintergrundsprache. DAGA 2018 - Fortschritte der Akustik, 19.-23. März 2018. München, Deutschland.
[17] Müller, B. (2018). Entwicklung und Untersuchung elektroakustischer Maßnahmen zur Reduktion der Störwirkung von Hintergrundsprache in offenen Büroumgebungen. Stuttgart, Deutschland.
[18] Liebl, A., Zaglauer, M., Martin, N. (2017). Evaluation of measures for the reduction of impairment by background speech at office workplaces: Comparison of measurements and listening tests. 12th ICBEN Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem, 18.-22. June 2017. Zurich, Switzerland.
[19] Liebl, A., Jahncke, H. (2017). Review of research on the effects of noise on cognitive performance 2014-2017. 12th ICBEN Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem, 18.-22. June 2017. Zurich, Switzerland.
[20] Liebl, A., Martin, N., Zaglauer, M., Kowalsky, K. (2017). Evaluation von Maßnahmen zur Reduzierung von störendem Hintergrundsprechen an Büroarbeitsplätzen: Vergleich von Messung und Hörversuch. DAGA 2017 - Fortschritte der Akustik, 06.-09. März 2017. Kiel, Deutschland.
[21] Martin, N., Liebl, A., Zaglauer, M. (2017). Picassos Guernica unter der Sounddusche - die ”akustische Emotionalisierung” der Kunst. DAGA 2017 - Fortschritte der Akustik, 06.-09. März 2017. Kiel, Deutschland.
[22] Liebl, A., Leistner, P. (2016). Building Sound Design: Akustik im privaten Wohnumfeld. Stuttgart, Deutschland.
[23] Liebl, A., Leistner, P. (2016). Krach im Krankenhaus: Was den Patienten stört. Stuttgart, Deutschland.
[24] Liebl, A., Leistner, P. (2016). Odyssee: Großraumbüro oder Open Space. Stuttgart, Deutschland.
[25] Dickschen, A. (2016). Development of a combined test procedure for listening effort and cognitive performance. Southampton, England.

BI events

  • 02. Oktober: 1. Partnertreffen am Fraunhofer IBP in Stuttgart
  • 03. März: 1. Workshop in München
  • 15. März: 2. Partnertreffen am Fraunhofer IBP in Stuttgart
  • 16. März: 1. Fachsymposium »Menschen in Räumen«
  • 16. Juni: 3. Partnertreffen bei BASF in Ludwigshafen
  • 15. November: 4. Partnertreffen bei bei C + P in Breidenbach
  • 31. Januar: 5. Partnertreffen bei Vollack in Karlsruhe
  • 02. Mai: 6. Partnertreffen am Fraunhofer IBP in Stuttgart
  • 03. Mai: 2. Fachsymposium »Menschen in Räumen«
  • 15. September: 7. Partnertreffen bei VW in Braunschweig
  • 22. März: 8. Partnertreffen am Fraunhofer IBP in Holzkirchen
  • 10. Juli: 9. Partnertreffen bei der PAN+ARMBRUSTER GmbH in Oberkirch
  • 09. Oktober: 10. Partnertreffen am Fraunhofer IBP in Stuttgart
  • 12. März: 11. Partnertreffen bei Gerriets GmbH in Umkirch
  • 02. April: 3. Fachsymposium »Menschen in Räumen«
  • 27. Juni: 12. Partnertreffen am Fraunhofer IBP in Stuttgart
  • 17. September: 13. Partnertreffen bei Sennheiser in Wedemarkt
  • 11. Februar: 14. Partnertreffen bei BASF in Ludwigshafen
  • 16. Juni: 15. Partnertreffen virtuell über Teams
  • 13. Oktober: 16. Partnertreffen bei Innogration in Bernkastel-Kues
  • 28. Oktober: 4. Fachsymposium »Menschen in Räumen«
  • 23. Februar: 17. Partnertreffen virtuell über Teams
  • 15. Juni: 18. Partnertreffen (falls möglich in Präsenz)
  • 12. Oktober: 19. Partnertreffen


The BI at other events

  • Orgatec
  • DAGA 2018
  • A+A Messe
  • MS Wissenschaft – Neue Arbeitswelten
  • Zukunft Personal Europe
  • FutureWork
  • Achitektenevent »Office zwischen Innovation Lab und Kaffeehaus«
  • Acoustex
  • A+A Messe
  • DAGA 2019
  • International Conference on Acoustics
  • Sitzung der BDA (moderne Bürogestaltung)
  • Orgatec 2020
  • Servparc
  • Arbeitsschutz Aktuell
  • DAGA 2020
consultation with our experts
© Shutterstock / sdecoret

Start a non-binding consultation with our experts!

In a 30-minute meeting, we will be happy to provide you with more in-depth information about our network and membership opportunities.