Posted on July 13, 2017
Acoustics are an important consideration when designing an office, though they are often left out in favour of aesthetics and cost-saving strategies.
However, office noise can be a significant disturbance to employee concentration; affecting communication and productivity. In more extreme cases it can even contribute to stress and illness, including headaches, and ultimately lead to increased absenteeism.
Noise often appears in the form of mobile phones ringing (sometimes at a very high volume!) colleague conversation in the office or via Skype and excessive printer noise. For those who prefer working in a quieter environment, it could significantly impact their wellbeing at work.
Recent design trends such as open plan offices and the use of hard flooring have increased the need to consider acoustics. Hard surfaces such as glass, laminate and vinyl all sounds to reverberate around the space and travel further than they would with sound absorbing strategy.
Sound absorbing materials
These materials do not have to dull or dark in colour, they come in a variety of forms, colours and patterns. Some examples include acoustic wall coverings, ceiling structures, partitions and furniture. Acoustic improvements are becoming more and more creative, such as meeting pods that are made from acoustic material strategically placed in the office. The sound-absorbing materials can be made from recycled.
Plants are surprisingly capable of absorbing and deflecting noise, due to their ability as a flexible surface to absorb and deflect sound through the surface area of the leaves and rough surfaces such as the bark. Noise absorption ability varies between different sizes, shapes and types of plant. Positioning plants close to hard surfaces can help diffract the noise that would otherwise reverberate around the room, whether they sit on the floor or on top of storage units such as filing cabinets. Plants can keep an open plan office feeling open, without the need for partitions.
Spaces specifically designed for employees to be able to take some time out to think and work in a more peaceful atmosphere can be a great solution to noise issues. These could be in the form of informal meeting areas such as pods or booths or a contemplation room created for relaxation.
Designs that incorporate acoustics in their planning can make the best out of your office design so everyone can enjoy their workplace to its full potential, with productive and happy employees.