Acoustics in the Workplace



The Woes of the Modern Office
We’ve all seen it. A well-designed work room packed full of employees with earbuds and headphones on, trying to block out the din of being in close proximity. Even though they’re right next to each other, they’ll send messages to communicate because they don’t want to add to the noise. Taking measures to improve the acoustics can help turn this situation around. If there’s a balance of acoustic absorption and sound masking, an environment in which employees aren’t afraid to speak up can be created.


Offsetting the Open Office 
Since open offices are becoming more prevalent, so too is the issue with acoustics that can be distracting. While being in close quarters can help facilitate creativity and productivity, it can also make concentration a challenge. Maybe you can overhear the music leaking out of a coworker’s headphones, or the air conditioner that rattles when it kicks on, or the project manager with the bombastic radio DJ voice. More than ever, there’s a necessity to find a way to muffle the noise that happens in the workplace.


Lacking “Earlids”
In a Steelcase article, Julian Treasure, chairman of a UK-based consultancy, The Sound Agency states, “We have bandwidth for roughly 1.6 human conversations. So if you’re hearing somebody’s conversation, then that’s taking up 1 of your 1.6. Even if you don’t want to listen to it, you can’t stop it: You have no earlids. And that means you’ve just .6 left to listen to your own inner voice.” It’s inevitable. Our brains only have so much attention to delegate.


Going the Distance 
Work Design article states, “Most modern commercial office buildings have very quiet background sound levels. With no one else in the room, the space is dead quiet. A whisper can be overheard at significant distance. Opening a bag of chips is a distraction at 50 feet! I call this “creepy quiet. When conversations begin in a creepy quiet environment, they can be easily overheard at distances of 50-60 feet.” Noise travels quite the stretch, right? 


Dampen the Noise 
That point leads us to our next one. The current trends of exposed beams and hardwood floors create quite the echoey space. What are some good options to help absorb all that ambient noise? Well, rugs are a great start. White noise systems can also help drown out conversations and the steady noise can eliminate that feeling of crickets chirping and having to be super quiet. 


Quiet Down in Style 
Another option is the Acoustic Hex from Ghent. The acoustic panel surface lessen sound in a noisy office and is available in 7 standard colors. Designed to make common areas uncommon, Hex acoustic boards combine an exciting shape with a variety of colors to add some excitement to an office, conference room or co-working area. Hex is the perfect dimensional board that draws attention to an otherwise ordinary space. Hang Hex with the flat or pointed side upward, side by side to create modular designs–and mix and match colors and surfaces to create a unique canvas of functional artwork.


Multidimensional Approach 
In the end, combining a few of the measures above will be the most effective approach. Your employees’ ears–and brains–will be so very grateful for your efforts!


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