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Craving the Sound of Silence? Tips for Improved Office Acoustics

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Open-concept office environments have become the norm with the goal of encouraging collaboration. They also have been shown to improve efficiency and reduce the amount of space a company needs for their employees. However, many struggle to focus due to constant noise distractions. Did you know that acoustic felt panels can actually aid in this problem? Let’s look at how acoustics can reduce sound, resulting in a huge benefit when it comes to productivity.

Why is It Worth Investigating?

Oxford Economics researched the topic of open-concept office design and found that the respondents’ top priority was the ability to focus without interruptions. The brain can take around 20 minutes for a person to regain concentration on complex tasks after a distraction. When you’re in an open office environment with constant distraction, think about the amount of time and productivity lost — and having to refocus over and over leads to more mistakes.

How Does It Work?

It all comes down to science. Sound bounces off of solid surfaces — and since exposed concrete walls, higher ceilings and glass are all the trend in office design, it’s no wonder noise is a common complaint. Let’s look at two different options to reduce sound:

  1. Sound masking: Many of today’s office designers incorporate sound masking technology into their designs. This technology provides artificial background noise that makes acoustic distractions less noticeable. This equipment frequently sounds like static or air flow and is generally built into the ceiling. This option is problematic because many offices were built before this technology came out. Retrofitting an existing office to add sound masking equipment can be time-intensive, costly and disruptive.
  2. Sound absorption panels: Another option for sound reduction is sound absorption panels, also known as acoustic felt panels. Although sound waves will still bounce off the walls and ceilings, sound absorption panels actually absorb the sound waves they come in contact with. The acoustic panels tend to come in various patterns as the increase in surface area improves the sound absorption.
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Consider Clarus

As an innovator for collaborative glass writing surfaces, Clarus can customise many of their products to include acoustic felt panels. Whether wall-mounted glassboards (like Flip) or mobile glassboards (such as go! Mobile™ Acoustic or Flex™ Mobile), adding acoustic panels to your office can help your employees work in a less distracting environment. Run out of meeting rooms but need a team huddle?

Office Acoustics CAN Be Improved

While sound will never be fully silenced and some employees will always be more sensitive to distractions, the return on investment from improving office acoustics is multifaceted! Since most company’s biggest investment is employee salaries, why wouldn’t you seek to provide an environment that allows them to do their best work? Not only will your employees be more productive, but their satisfaction will be higher too. Trying to work in a distracting environment causes stress, so it makes sense that a work environment more conducive to focus would lead to happier employees and less turnover — a win for the company and the employee!

Sources

“Design an Open Office that Doesn’t Suck.” Aerocoustics. 21 June 2018, https://aercoustics.com/room-acoustics-designing-open-office-doesnt-compromise-privacy-productivity/.

Johnson, Steve. “Addressing Workplace Acoustics in the Open Office.” Work Design Magazine. https://www.workdesign.com/2016/11/acoustics-open-office/.

“When the Walls Come Down: How Smart Companies are Rewriting the Rules of the Open Workplace.” Oxford Economics. 13 June 2016, https://www.oxfordeconomics.com/when-the-walls-come-down.