(Acoustic Solutions) Designing an office space now is much different than it was a few decades ago. The modern approach to designing workplaces entails having open spaces as an attempt to boost collaboration and team building.
This is the kind of office space you’ll find in most big corporations and startups these days. While this design does have its charm, it can be quite a hindrance to productivity.
Overhearing a conversation about someone’s vacation or how terrible the pot roast they had for dinner the day before isn’t exactly conducive to getting things done.
Open layouts can be distracting, which is why acoustic solutions have been rising in popularity over the past few years. These are some acoustic solutions you can try for any workplace.
1. Acoustic Baffles and Ceiling Rafts
The problem with many acoustic solutions in the office space is how they take up so much space. For a confined area, the last thing that you need is to add more panels or other solutions that can make the place more cramped than it already is.
This is where acoustic baffles come in. They are a construction device that reduces the strength of airborne sound, which is why they are one of the most popular tools for noise mitigation in an office.
The great thing about acoustic baffles is the fact that they are hung from the ceiling, so they won’t take up any floor space that you could otherwise use. They also come in a variety of designs and colors, so they add some style to your workplace and look nice.
Ceiling rafts are another option that is hung from the ceiling and helps with noise absorption. They don’t take floor space either, and the installation of these panels is very easy and doesn’t consume much time.
They also come in various designs and shapes, and you can use them to compliment your office design while controlling the noise issue.
Both baffles and rafts are commonly used in spaces with high ceilings, and they can be matched well with your lighting design.
2. Furniture Selection
Believe it or not, your furniture plays a significant role in either boosting the noise or mitigating its effect. With some clever selections, you can reduce the sound in your office space by getting furniture that can block the noise.
Installing an acoustic screen between partitions is a great way to keep each one private with minimal disturbance.
It’s also a flexible way to control the sound in the workplace since you can move the screen around and fit it to any desk however you please. It’s basically your own noise-control panel that you can use to create a relatively isolated workspace in the office.
Your furniture selection also applies to the floors. Sound travels easily when the floors are smooth and still, so you need to cause an interruption that would disrupt the flow of sound and cause some sort of acoustic isolation.
You can do that by selecting sound-sensitive floors that will offer some soundproofing. Rugs, carpets, and cork tiles are a few examples of flooring materials that will significantly improve the acoustics in the office and reduce noise.
3. Add Plants and Textile
When it comes to plants, you get more than one benefit. They not only add an aesthetic value to your workplace and keep the air clean but also act as sound absorbers.
This is because of their porous nature, which makes them excellent at reducing sounds. It’s done in different ways, whether that is refraction, absorption, or deflection.
So, it might be a good idea to invest in some plant walls to spread around your office. They will regenerate the air around the building while also reducing the sounds, providing you with improved acoustics.
You can find several companies that specialize in plant walls, which is a more elegant way to separate your office.
Textile wall hangings work for the same reason that plants do. Soft surfaces absorb sound, while hard surfaces reflect it.
So, instead of leaving an exposed brick wall in your office for stylistic reasons, cover it with plants and/or textiles, which will dampen the sound propagation in your office and provide more privacy for your team.
4. Install Sound Masking
While most acoustic solutions work to dampen the sounds that travel through your workplace, sound masking systems work to introduce background noise into the office.
They prevent conversations from being overheard and make them indiscernible. This will in turn increase productivity in the office since people will have less time to listen to what their coworkers are talking about.
Sound masking systems work through custom-designed digital generators that create specific noise and distribute it through hidden speakers.
You can find a lot of open office designs implementing these systems to mask the sounds and blur anything going in the background.
It is considered as a form of white noise, which is always a great way to help people concentrate.
Sound masking isn’t annoying or disturbing since the noise propagated is in the low-level frequencies, so it’s a comfortable background sound that wouldn’t distract people while they work.
It fills the sound spectrum to cover any talking or even uncomfortable silence that can often be just as distracting as people talking around you.
A great feature in sound masking systems is that they automatically adjust the noise level in the office, increasing volume if the sounds get too high or quieting down a bit during silences.
You can find plenty of great acoustic solutions for your office as explained in this article. The catch is in trying some out to see what works.
Ask your people what they prefer, and get their input on which systems provided them with the best sound insulation. You can also mix some of these solutions together for the best results.
There is nothing stopping you from adding plants in your office along with ceiling rafts and some carefully selected furniture pieces like screens to separate partitions.
By mixing these acoustic solutions, you ensure that the noise levels in your office are low, so people will be more productive.