Office acoustics and how to change them

There’s so much advice available on office design and sustainability, but what about sound and the way it behaves in the workspace? It’s a hugely important aspect of office design and one that’s often overlooked. Working in a space where sound travels too readily can be distracting, but if the office soaks up too much noise, it can be hard for people to be heard when they need to be.

Open plan offices are fashionable at the moment and they have many advantages, such as encouraging collaboration, creating a sense of space and openness and feeling on trend. However, when it comes to acoustics, they can be a nightmare as they allow unwanted sound to travel and being distracted by noise is one of the number one complaints made by office workers.

Noisy photocopiers, ringing phones and office chat-chat are hard to ignore when you’re in an open plan workspace, so what is the answer when it comes to optimal office acoustics?

Simple tweaks can improve office acoustics

Improving the acoustics of your workspace needn’t bust the budget. A few simple tweaks can make a big difference.

Try these simple steps:

  1. Configure your office so that it works for various departments. For example, the marketing and PR department might have regular brainstorming sessions and require a space that enables them to do that, while IT might not need to do so much talking.
  2. Create dedicated rooms for meetings and make sure that quiet space is available for staff members who want it.
  3. Make sure you have a designated space for eating and drinking. Lunching at the desk can create unnecessary noise and it’s far better to encourage workers to take desk breaks at meal and snack times.
  4. Use plants to absorb sound – not only do plants absorb sound, they improve air quality and create a relaxing ambience.
  5. Separate rooms where noisy machinery operates – it sounds obvious but if you have any machinery that makes loud noises, place it in a separate space where it won’t annoy people.
  6. Place desks in clusters so that sound is contained.
  7. Use office partitions as a design feature. When done well, an office partition can be stylish, create extra privacy, and soundproof an area.
  8. Use materials that absorb sound such as carpet and fabrics.Hard surfaces are notoriously bad at absorbing sound.

Purpose made solutions

You can also buy specific materials that will improve the acoustics of your office space, for example, cork board can be made from recycled materials, it’s porous and acts as an effective sound diffuser. The same goes for profiled foam, which is often used in recording studios, due to its soundproofing nature. You can also place acoustic foam underneath desks – staff won’t even know it’s there and it will have a dramatic effect on noise levels.

You can also install moveable walls, which come on wheels – padded varieties are available for noise cancelling purposes.

Ceilings can also be used to absorb sound. Floating panels, called Baffels can be installed. The beauty of these is that they don’t take up any precious floorspace.

Likewise, you can use a variety of textiles for flooring, from carpet through to rubber and bamboo as all have sound absorbing properties.

Call in an acoustic specialist

If you want to ensure that you do the best job possible of improving your office acoustics, call in the experts.

A professional soundproofing service will survey your office, making a note of how noise travels and noting the materials that are causing problems. They will begin by finding ‘reflection points’, i.e. hard surfaces which reflect sound rather like a mirror does light.

The experts will also talk to you and find out about how the office space is used. One organisation’s acoustically tuned office might not work for another organisation. It all depends on how the space is utilised.

Why it pays to improve office acoustics

Experiments show that too much noise can impair creativity. It also has a detrimental effect on productivity. And remember, there may be some members of staff within your organisation who are more sensitive to sound than others, making the acoustics even more challenging for them.

Also, customers don’t want to hear noise interference when they are on the phone to your business. At best it could irritate them, at worst, they may struggle to hear what is being said and that could impinge on your trade.

Add noise

Research has found that while certain noises are distracting, others can soothe and actually aid creativity. Ambient noise like nature sounds can cancel out other office noise. The best approach is to talk to the team to see what their preferences are.

And finally…

A quieter office environment is better for everybody and it needn’t cost the earth. We provide concierge office space in various locations in London including Bank, Farringdon, Mayfair and Marble Arch and can accommodate all your sound proofing needs. Contact us to find out more.

Contact Us

Speak to one of our team today who would
be delighted to provide you with information,
discuss your requirements or book in a
viewing to see the office space for yourself.