The importance of acoustics in the workplace

How important are acoustics in the office?

High noise levels are one of the biggest complaints in the office, this can be due to many factors such as people talking loudly, keyboard clicks and office equipment (printers, computers) emanating a humming or buzzing sound. All this noise in turn means that people must talk even more loudly to overtake the racket, which then worsens the working conditions of the office.

Many business’ often neglect the soundscaping of an office when looking to renovate, and mainly focus on the aesthetic, not considering that high noise levels have been proven to increase stress levels, reduce concentration levels and negatively affect productivity.

There are ways to prevent high noise levels in the office, without affecting the aesthetic. Compared with a few years ago, there’s now many products that offer a solution to the noisiness of your office while keeping it looking great.

Read on for three important reasons why you should consider the acoustics in your workplace…

 

Importance of acoustics

1. Improve wellbeing – Noisy offices are proven to increase stress levels in workers, Loud sounds and exposure to prolonged noise leads to physiologic stress responses in our bodies e.g. heightened blood pressure and increased heart rate,

‘Sound affects us psychologically, cognitively and behaviourally, even though we’re not aware of it.’– Julian Treasure, CEO The Sound Agency.

2. Privacy – Acoustic products offer privacy, for example in meeting rooms or in private offices. This ensures that conversations may not be overheard by other workers and so clear communication can take place. Think of a possible awkward conversation with a colleague, would you want anyone to hear that? It can save a lot of embarrassment!

3. Productivity – Noisy offices can negatively affect productivity in the workplace. Constant interruptions can lead to an inability to focus on work, which also links back to the improve wellbeing point mentioned above, as this can lead workers to feel stressed.

 

How to manage high noise levels in the workplace

Absorbing sound at the source

This is especially useful in open plan office spaces & break out areas. You can install acoustic panels to walls, ceilings and even to furniture.

Another way to absorb sound at the source is by using high backed sofas/chairs, or pods which offer privacy and quieten sound from that area. Noise reducing acoustic foam is often used for these types of furniture, which enables workers to congregate with minimal disruption to those around them.

Glazed walls for meeting room areas also offer prevent noise emanating to the office spaces.

Blocking noise

This can be done through the tactical placement of screens, barriers and walls between the source of the noise and the work areas. Also, desk dividers are effective in blocking noise from desk to desk in open plan offices, and as mentioned above, pods can be used to block sound too.

Ensuring your office layout is rigorously planned can reduce noise levels massively as partitions and dividers block sound travelling through the office.

Applying acoustic ceiling panels can block sound transmitting to other areas too.

Covering hard surfaces

Covering hard surfaces such as walls and ceilings with acoustical material decreases undesirable noise in the office. Hard surfaces do not absorb sound waves, this means any sound in a room with many hard surfaces ‘bounces’ and creates an echo effect.

Strategically covering hard surfaces in an office space is key for optimum acoustic levels.

 

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