In today’s world where office space is at a premium, employers are trying to cram more and more people into smaller spaces. Employees are frequently elbow-to-elbow and nose-to-nose.
Workplace design is a complex process. Workplace acoustics is one aspect of the process that is frequently overlooked and regularly a major reason for disappointment.
When an employee takes or makes a call within earshot of another, the content of the conversation is enticing to the brain of their neighbours. Productivity drops and frustration rises. Studies have shown that it can take as much as 20 minutes to fully regain concentration on complex tasks once distracted. Once distracted, error rates increase as work is resumed.
As we plan for new workplaces and for modifications to existing workplaces, there are a few simple acoustical concepts that can help ensure a better outcome for the employee’s satisfaction and the success of the enterprise.
Acoustically absorptive materials
Offices full of people create noise. Conversations, ringing phones, and keyboard clicks are a constant. This is all energy. The energy of this sound radiates away from its source and interacts with every surface. Concrete, glass, and painted sheetrock reflect the sound. Multiple reflections take place within fractions of a second. This sound creates a web of distracting noise. Further, as humans, we hear this noise and react by increasing the level of our voice to compete with the distraction. This causes a “ratcheting-up” of the noise levels. Before long, instead of a productive work environment that encourages productive pursuit of the business enterprise, we have employees isolating themselves with headphones and fingers in their ears to find relief.
Adding acoustically absorptive materials improves this condition. Absorptive materials take many forms. Acoustical ceilings, acoustical wall panels and carpet are a few we all know. Acoustical ceilings seem to have become an unattractive alternative to many. The look of the exposed building lends a feel that is more in line with the brand of many occupiers. When ceilings and carpet are not a part of the design, it is the responsibility of the workplace design team to strategically add absorptive materials in other places.
As a general principle, placing the absorptive materials as close as possible to the noise source is most effective.
A well-designed acoustical workplace will feel comfortable to employees.
Good workplace acoustics should be on the checklist of every design team. Lead the conversation on acoustics to the benefit of your clients and the employees that will occupy the space.
Installing a seamless acoustic ceiling such as Wood Wool will help to absorb unwanted sounds in the office space. But it is also important to place acoustic products closer to the source of the sounds. Suspending acoustic panels such as Acustiart 3D over the workspaces will also help.
In a modern office the design of the room also has an impact on the workers, so consider adding a feature wall with Airflake. If the area already has a suspended ceiling installed, you could replace some of the ceiling tiles with Acustiart 3D for a 3D effect.
Contact us now to discover how Primacoustics can help in the design of your private office.