More and more, innovative office designs lean towards a sort of modified newsroom environment — open concepts with limited private offices but breakaway rooms and booths for meetings and privacy as well as communal areas away from workstations. It’s a layout considered more collaborative and inviting but comes with unique challenge concerning sound.
This edition of the Acoustic Influencer focuses on the modern office space and how sound-absorption strategy plays a huge role in everything from productivity to wellbeing.
Simply put, it’s a problem in any open-concept area. Conversations, phone calls, office equipment, ventilation systems, etc. all contribute to an ever-growing cacophony. Excessive noise can lead to decreased productivity, so it makes business sense for acoustics design to focus on controlling and minimizing noise with sound-absorption materials, smart layouts and noise canceling technologies.
Confidentiality and privacy are important in office spaces, particularly in areas like meeting rooms, private offices and HR departments. Acoustic design ensures privacy by minimizing the intelligibility of conversations outside designated areas.
Clear communication is as important in collaborative areas, conference rooms and during meetings as privacy is in other spaces. Good acoustic design ensures that speech is easily understood, enhancing effective communication and reducing the need for repeated exchanges. Proper room acoustics with sound-reflection control and sound-reinforcement systems contribute to improved speech intelligibility.
A quieter and more pleasant workspace contributes to increased job satisfaction and employee morale.
Acoustic considerations aren’t limited to functional aspects, they can be integrated into the design and aesthetics of any office environment. Acoustic panels, baffles and other sound absorbing materials can be shaped, dyed, hung and more to creatively incorporate them into architectural plans and contribute to the visual appeal while reducing noise.
Depending on the jurisdiction, specific standards need to be followed to protect from excessive noise exposure and helps avoid potential legal issues. Ontario regulations state employees can’t be subjected to time-weighted average of 85 decibels (think hair dryer or vacuum) over an eight-hour work period. Likely more pertinent to restaurants, clubs and concert venues, but still important in office spaces.
McIntyre is always innovating, and the goal of the Acoustic Influencer is to be a home for thought leadership in the industry — we never muffle conversations. If you’ve got something to say, please comment and share.