In this modern age, open-plan offices are the norm. Increased creativity, collaboration as well as effective communication are few of the reasons why an open-plan design is favoured over partitions and walls. The fact that it saves space and cuts down on expenditures is an added benefit. Yet, it is undeniable that excessive noise is a by-product of an open-plan office design.
What are the common problems associated with office acoustics?
In spite of the good intentions behind this design, an open space, where many people work together, creates acoustic problems. The sound of a ringing telephone, the chitter-chatter coming from your neighbour’s desk, the click-clack of the keyboard, are just a few examples of distractions people face every day. These distractions ultimately lead to decreased productivity. In fact, studies show that speech distractions and conversation between coworkers are the main acoustical problems. These distractions eventually force your team members to wear headphones the whole day and isolate themselves; thus defeating the purpose of open-plan offices. Lack of privacy is another important problem associated with open-plan offices.
How can I improve the acoustics in my office?
In this situation, inculcating acoustics in office design becomes paramount. There are certain acoustic requirements for offices. Our simple office acoustic solutions and tips will contribute meaningfully towards improving office acoustics as well as ensure acoustic privacy:
#1 Ceiling and Floor Treatment
Sound travels faster on flat surfaces. Ceilings and floors comprise the majority of flat surfaces in the room; hence, it is necessary to acoustically treat them. Flat and hard surfaces also cause sounds to bounce back and forth causing a disturbance in the surroundings. Consider carpets and area rugs on the floor as the soft material will absorb sound and reduce the noise level. Office acoustic panels are a great way to treat ceilings. These panels are made with a revolutionary acoustic technology to leave you with a quieter space. Placing these panels directly above noisy areas can significantly reduce noise in the room.
#2 Create Different Zones
It is advisable to create dedicated spaces for meetings and quiet areas for individual work. However, constructing separate meeting rooms can be a costly affair. In this scenario, acoustic office pods are a cost-effective alternative to meeting rooms. These meeting pods are portable and retro-fitted making it hassle-free as well as more economical as compared to new constructions. It is also important to ensure that there is adequate distance between the work and breakout areas so that your team members can enjoy their breaks without causing any disturbance to people who are working.
#3 Bring Acoustic Privacy
The meaning of Acoustic Privacy is two-fold: firstly it means freedom from distracting external noise, and it also means freedom from being overheard by your colleagues. It is necessary to have Acoustic Privacy in the office as sometimes you need a private space to discuss confidential matters. However, an open plan office design creates a serious lack of privacy. Acoustic office screens, either freestanding, hanging or desk, are a great way to achieve acoustic privacy. These screens come equipped with acoustic materials that absorb excessive noise leaving you with a quieter space. They also create a visual barrier between different areas and workstations to keep distractions away from you. Lastly, consider investing in acoustic phone booths for private phone calls to avoid confidentiality breaches.
#4 Use Sound-Absorbing Materials
Strategically place sound-absorbing materials around the office to curb unwanted noise. As previously mentioned, hard and flat surfaces are not great sound absorbers. Whereas, softer surfaces like acoustic wall panels absorb sound to avoid reflection and thus effectively dealing with noise reverberation. These panels are also good for aesthetics; you can tailor it to reflect your brand’s identity with different colours, designs and even your logo. Ensure that these materials have a high Noise Reducing Coefficient (NRC) which means its ability to absorb sound.
#5 Sound masking systems
Generally, sound levels in offices are low causing people to overhear conversations unintentionally. Pin drop silence even makes a whisper sound loud. Sound masking systems are an effective way to solve this issue. These devices emit a uniform low-level background noise in the background. This noise masks human speech by making it intelligible and thus causing it to fade into the background. Sound masking systems are great for speech or acoustic privacy.
Ultimately, there is no one size fits all when it comes to office acoustics. You have to consider important factors like the size of the room and the purpose it serves. Hence, this makes it important to consider acoustics during the design process of the office.
This April at Radius Office, we are promoting greater productivity at the workplace with special discounts on our acoustic range. Contact our Sales Team for more information about this deal.