How to Avoid Noisy Office Environments

Office design isn’t what it used to be. Walls, cubicles, and other barriers are becoming fewer and far between. All of this is done to foster collaboration, but with the rise of the open office, one dilemma we are left with is noise. How can we maintain an open, collaborative work space while keeping acoustics under control?

More and more employees are complaining about the lack of privacy and noise level. Products are rising in popularity that offer some place where meetings, conversations or phone calls can remain private.  According to CBS Office Interior Design, productivity can decrease by as much as 71% when employees are overstimulated by noise.

Here are 4 steps we can take to alleviate the growing problem of noisy offices:

1. Sound Masking, or put another way, increasing background noise, is an option that covers up other noises and conversations. This decreases the likelihood employees with become distracted by their coworkers nearby. Sound masking systems can be controllable so that at times where you need to hear what people are saying (say, during training), and can be turned back up when the space needs to be used as a call center, for example.

Natural sounds like flowing water are a great way to mask sound without becoming distracting. These are an ideal solution for healthcare applications as well.

Sounds Masking






2. Plant acoustics can help drown out a little noise, not to mention the fact that plants can help improve air quality, productivity, and employee health & well-being. Plants have long been used to reduce noise along highways and interstates, and this concept can be applied with interiors as well. Plants are needed in hard surface environments like areas with hardwood, marble or concrete. As a general rule, one plant is needed every 100 square feet to be a successful noise reducer. The best plants to use as sound barriers are Madagascan dragon tree, Kentia palms, peace lily and the weeping figs.

3. Design for task; this means have some areas open and collaborative and others more private. Panels can still be used to help with noise control, especially at lower heights allowing for more natural light and an open feel.

4. Employee direction – allow your employees to be in control of how they interact with the space. Try to provide moveable, flexible furniture. Many offices provide worksurfaces where employees can choose which direction to face – right, left or center. Giving this power to the employees allows them to feel more comfortable and therefore more productive.

Sound affects the workplace just as much as furniture, if not more. It is essential that sound is taken into consideration during the design phase.  Overall productivity and employees satisfaction depends on it. Contact River’s Edge today to learn about sound solutions that are right for you.

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