The design of office spaces has evolved drastically over the years. Back in the day, most offices had private cabins for employees but what we see today is an entirely different picture. Today, most offices are designed on an open-plan basis, where all the employees sit and work together in an open space.
The primary idea of an open office plan is to encourage employees to interact with each other better. The higher the interaction and coordination, the smoother the workflow and the higher the overall productivity and efficiency will be.
While the open office plan has helped employers overcome the problem of poor employee communication and interaction, it has resulted in a bigger problem, and that is poor acoustics of the office.
In an attempt to establish more collaborative work environments, employers kind of undermined the importance of good office acoustics. And that can have serious consequences in the long run.
If you want to know more about the importance of acoustics and noise reduction in open offices, you’ve come to the right place. This blog post will help you understand office acoustics better and assist you in improving the acoustics of your office, which will, in turn, improve the overall efficiency of your employees.
Photo Credit: Soft dB
Why Sound Masking Is Important In Open Office Environments
Open office means everyone is working in an open space. That implies that whatever others are doing in your surrounding will affect you. The constant ringing of the phone, the loud chatter, the noise of typing on the keyboard, and the sound of footsteps on the wooden floor are some of the noises that may distract you.
With so much noise around, you may find it hard to focus on your work. With poor focus, the chances of errors are high. The level of productivity may also take a massive blow.
Open offices have improved the communication and collaboration among employees but when it comes to the quality of work, a lot of people seem to be struggling with delivering the best quality work due to the constant noise pollution a work.
You’ll be surprised to know that about 60% of people working in open office spaces complain about noise and how it affects their productivity. All of this makes it critically important for employers to improve the acoustics and mask as much sound as they possibly can in their open offices.
Importance of Acoustics in Open Office Spaces
We know that one needs silence to focus at work. The noise in an open office space affects the productivity and efficiency of workers. However, there’s a lot more to it. When we say good acoustics in an open office space are crucially important, we literally mean it. Below are some of the many reasons why we lay so much importance and focus on improving the acoustics of open offices.
There are several matters at work that are best discussed in privacy. Imagine having your boss lecture you over a blunder you made with everyone listening. That’ll make you extremely uncomfortable and humiliated.
Then there are many departments to department matters that are confidential and can’t be discussed in the open. This is where acoustics and noise reduction come into play. With good acoustics, you don’t have to worry about your voice being overheard by someone you don’t want to listen to. They offer increased privacy at work, which is a basic requirement.
Of course, with noise reduction, you’ll be able to focus on your work better. The better you’re able to focus, the higher your productivity will be. Constant distractions and interruptions are a given in open office spaces. You might not be able to ask someone sitting beside you to not talk on the phone so loudly. That’s quite rude. But then, with constant background noise, you can’t concentrate on your work either.
When there are proper measures to reduce noise in the place, you’ll find yourself being able to concentrate on work better. You’re less likely to make errors and more likely to meet deadlines. All of this means better outcomes for the business. You see; it’s a win-win situation for both employees and employers.
How to Improve the Acoustics of Open Offices
We simply can’t deny the importance of acoustics in workplaces. The question is how to improve acoustics so that the employees are able to work in privacy and at higher efficiency levels. We’ve listed down several ways in which you can improve the acoustics of your open office. Choose what you feel suits you best and take the right steps at the right time.
Arrange Teams Carefully
Not all teams work in the same way. Some departments, like the accounts department, require silence to be able to focus. On the other hand, some departments, like marketing and sales, need to work in a highly collaborative environment. Your office layout should be planned in such a way that teams that work differently are arranged thoughtfully so that nobody gets disturbed.
Make Meeting Rooms
Despite the many benefits of an open office plan, there are times when there’s a need to conduct important meetings that can’t be conducted in open spaces. You certainly can’t discuss matters of immense importance with so much noise around.
One way to improve the acoustics of your open office and make it meeting-friendly is to arrange meeting rooms. You don’t need to build separate rooms. You can use room dividers paired with acoustic absorbent material to make it soundproof.
Another way to improve the acoustics of open offices and reduce the noise is to add lots of plants around your office. Plants not only uplift the aesthetics of your office space but also absorb sound, making the office feel less noisy. Adding large plants in pots or making plant walls in an open office can really improve the acoustics of the office and help reduce office noise.
Line the Underside of Desks with Acoustic Foam
One of the most effective ways of improving the acoustics of open offices is by lining the underside of office desks with acoustic foam. Acoustic foam is a special foam that absorbs sound and makes the office feel quitter.
Even with lots of noise around, the office won’t feel too loud. 40% of all the flat surfaces in most offices are office desks and you should use these surfaces to your advantage. The best thing about this is that the employees won’t even know their desks are lined with acoustic foam and it won’t even have any impact on the aesthetics of the office.
Play Ambient Background Sound
Another way to improve the acoustics of open office space is to play ambient background noise. Now, you may wonder how adding another noise to an already noisy space would help with noise reduction. Well, you’ll be surprised to know that it’s not the noise that disturbs and distracts but it’s the unwanted noise that’s the problem.
Low-level ambient sounds like the sound of the beach waves, rain, or waterfall; your mind won’t get distracted by the unwanted noises of the surroundings. The ambient sound in the background will make unwanted noises in the background unintelligible and thus, make it easier for the workers to ignore them. Also, ambient sounds make the workplace feel a lot more soothing and relaxing.
Hard surfaces are poor absorbers of sound. If you look closely, most of your office space is hard. From the floor to walls, to work desks, everything is flat. No wonder the office feels so loud and noisy. One way to reduce the noise pollution at work is to cover the floors with carpets. That would make it softer and, thus, good absorbers of sound.
Since the floor makes up a massive portion of all the hard surfaces, carpeting the floors will really help improve the acoustics of your office.
Add Aesthetic Acoustic Panels to the Walls
Acoustic solutions don’t always have to be obvious and ugly. One way to improve the acoustics of open office space and reduce noise is to line the walls with aesthetically appealing, smartly designed acoustic wall panels. Not only will these acoustic panels change the game in the area of aesthetics, but they will reduce the office noise significantly by absorbing the sound.
An acoustic wall that’s designed uniquely can serve as an attractive backdrop for the Comhar All-in-One Standing Desk Gl. You can add matching light fixtures and up the game to an all-new level. You get to reap double benefits from a single solution.
We can’t deny the benefits of an open office plan, nor can we deny the challenges it poses. While open office design improves the collaboration among teams, it also makes it hard for some employees to work with the concentration they need.
However, if you take the right steps to improve the acoustics of your open office, you’re in for a big win. You’ll get to enjoy the benefits of open office spaces and won’t even have to struggle with the challenges that come with them.