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Project: Enexis Office

Country/city: Netherlands / Roosendaal

Architect: DZAP Architecten

Photographer:  De Beeldredaktie / Sjoerd van der Hucht 

Working flexibly in comfort at Enexis Netbeheer Roosendaal

The Grid Manager at Enexis introduced the Enexis-X flexible working system a few years ago. But the concept proved not to be suitable for all its locations. People working at the old office in Breda had to contend with a lot of noise pollution. That had to be put right. Acoustics became a spearhead policy at the new location in Roosendaal. Ecophon contributed fully to the process.

‘The Breda location in Edisonstraat wasn’t set up for flexible working,’ explains Albert van Kempen, Enexis Netbeheer’s Standard Connections Team Manager. ‘There simply weren’t enough rooms where people could make phone calls in peace and quiet or hold meetings. The rooms were constantly occupied. This resulted in meetings among other people, or one-to-one conversations rather than group meetings, which led to a lot of friction. People often got fed up and irritated, which affected the working atmosphere.’

Employees regularly complained about the noise during annual appraisals.Francie Coenders is the Enexis Group’s Facility Management Business Partner. She makes sure the facility management fills in regular customer satisfaction surveys. These surveys also confirmed that noisy rooms were a source of irritation. Ecophon was involved in the follow-up study.

About the follow-up study

How people experience sound depends on the room, the activities, personal characteristics and individual factors. Together with Nigel Oseland, an environmental psychologist from the UK, Ecophon has developed a research method that broadly charts acoustics.

Yvette Tietema, Concept Developer at Saint-Gobain Ecophon has used this research method and her background in FM and Organisational Psychology to support the FM Business Partner and architects with her broad knowledge of acoustics from a human perspective.

For more information, please contact yvette.tietema@ecophon.nl

Poor acoustics and stress

The follow-up study took a closer look at the acoustics (and psychoacoustics) and was conducted by Yvette Tietema, Concept Developer at Ecophon. The study covered factors such as personality, work activities, individual aspects and room acoustics. See the insert for more information about this study.

Francie: ‘It turned out that employees found it hard to get used to the idea of flexible working. The open office combined with poor acoustics caused a lot of noise pollution. This was made even worse by the lack of meeting rooms.’

Francie continues: ‘The poor acoustics gave people the feeling that they had to speak more loudly to make themselves heard. Being continuously disturbed makes people less productive, which has an impact on their mood and health.’ Scientific research has shown that noise causes an increase in the stress hormone cortisol.

Noisy core, surrounded by peace

Enexis Netbeheer recently moved into a new office in Roosendaal, where extra attention had been paid to the acoustics. In her role as Integration Manager, Agnes Compagne advised Enexis to incorporate the wishes of the future users as well as possible in how the new office was laid out.

What measures were taken? Agnes: ‘Ecophon gave us some very concrete advice on which elements have a big impact when it comes to improving the acoustics. The modular ceiling was an important aspect of this. It was of course supplied by Ecophon.’

A room’s ceiling has the largest number of square metres of absorption surface. A good ceiling therefore makes a big difference. The outstanding absorption level enables the modular ceiling to prevent noises from being distributed through the area.

Hustle and bustle and quiet areas are now separated.



‘Of course, that’s not the only measure that was taken,’ explains Agnes. ‘Ecophon advised us to install better acoustic screens, sound-absorbing wall panels and soft floor materials. Also, there are no longer any large open offices at the Roosendaal location. Workplaces are separated by acoustic screens or plants. We’ve placed a maximum of sixteen workplaces together.’

Jos Broekman, Creative Director of architectural firm DZAP and architect for the Roosendaal location: ‘The building is clearly structured to facilitate various work activities, without people getting in each other’s way. The first floor has been laid out for holding large meetings, gatherings and lunches. The activities that cause background noise, such as those in the kitchen areas and meeting rooms, have been brought together in the core of the building on the second and third floors. As well as the acoustic solutions such as the sound-absorbing ceiling, this core also has plants to maintain visual privacy. That way, we very consciously separate the quiet areas from the hustle and bustle.’ 

Employees involved in the plans

‘One of the best things I noticed about this project was the close cooperation between Enexis Netbeheer, Ecophon, me and the architect’, says Agnes. ‘Enexis Netbeheer contributed to this by closely involving its personnel in the design and the plans. There was a user group that was able to pass on its wishes and requirements, and we constantly included them in the developments. These people had a really important say in the project, and I think that they made an important contribution to making it such a nice working environment.’ Jos agrees: ‘It really was a co-creation project, throughout all the construction phases.’

Jos: ‘Whereas companies still often only consider the costs when applying acoustic solutions, we focus on the result for the employees. Scientific research has shown that in an acoustically comfortable work environment staff productivity rises and the stress level goes down. The office in Roosendaal is a good example of how absorbent acoustic measures and a smart layout can improve the acoustics in such a way that everyone can work in comfort.’

The acoustics are now fantastic. You can make yourself understood, but you don’t have to listen to the meetings of others.



There was no close contact between DZAP and Ecophon’,continues Jos. ‘And nor was there any need for that. We know precisely what Ecophon can do for us and what we can do for Ecophon. We know the added value of their products and services. Not only are Ecophon’s products highly functional – we also find them very aesthetic. We’ve now supplied our customers with a good number of metres of Focus DS modular ceilings, for example.’

Listening in at meetings

For employees, there’s a world of difference between working in Roosendaal compared with Breda. Albert: ‘The acoustics are now fantastic. You can make yourself understood, but you don’t have to listen to the meetings of others. You can barely even hear the printer room now. There are some staff members who need to be made more aware that it’s better to move away a bit than to hold discussions in the middle of the floor, but it’s just a matter of them getting used to moving their discussions elsewhere. Certainly, there are no more irritated outbursts like in Breda. Also, we need to take another look at the plants. Some people feel a bit closed in by them. But that’s a detail. All in all, we’re more than satisfied. Roosendaal is simply a nice place to work at.’ 

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