“Noise is the second* most common complaint in offices worldwide,” says Lauren Clark, concept developer at Saint-Gobain Ecophon, manufacturers of acoustic ceilings and wall panels.Research shows that sound is one of the main contributors to employee dissatisfaction and studies have found that open-plan offices can reduce productivity by up to 15% because of increased noise, interruptions and a lack of sound privacy.
The open-plan office, however, is here to stay and as we move closer to Corporate Wellness Week, taking place from 2-6 July, there is no better time to look at office furniture solutions that buffer the transfer of sound and provide measures of acoustic privacy.
To counteract the detrimental effects of noise in the workplace local, award-winning office furniture and accessories manufacturer AngelShack, has launched two insulated booths – the Focus and Speak Easy booths – to which employees can retreat to escape the din in the office.
AngelShack’s Focus Booth is a fully enclosed capsule that offers solitude from a busy work environment, making it perfect for confidential phone calls and one-on-one meetings. According to AngelShack Managing Director David Fish, the booth, which is lined with acoustic foam, features a full-length glass door, internal lighting and temperature control.Temperature is the most common complaint in offices worldwide
The Speak Easy Booth is another total-privacy solution that employees can use to make calls without outside interference. The booth is lined with acoustic foam, a full-length glass door, internal lighting and temperature control, plus a handy shelf for pens and notebooks.
“I love working in an open-plan office and feeling connected with the team,” says Fish. “However, while the positives are undisputed, there are certain factors, such as noise ranging from the hum of air-conditioning units to outside traffic, cell phone ring tones and colleagues’ voices that make working out in the open somewhat challenging and which have to be taken into consideration.”
Clarke concurs. “There are many factors to consider when looking at acoustic solutions to combat the negative effects of noise in the workplace. My shout out to designers is for them to be mindful of the performance criteria of different products, so that they can make informed decisions about which products and materials deliver an acoustic solution that works from both a visual and audio perspective.
“Nature and the outdoor environment are far more comfortable from an acoustic point of view than indoor spaces and the trick is to bring this insight into our design of indoor spaces such as offices now and moving forward,”adds Clarke.
“At AngelShack we’re in the business of challenging conventions,” says Fish. “We don’t sell office furniture, we provide workplace solutions for the office of tomorrow, including innovative products such as the Focus and Speak Easy booths.”
Here are a few additional tips and suggestions from Fish to help reduce noise and ensure privacy in the office work space:
- Plants, plants and more plants: Well-placed plants have proven effective in reducing noise levels in an open office setting. The larger the plant means the bigger the impact, not to mention the obvious aesthetic benefits and overall impact on air quality.
- Private practise: Use a high-back ladder frame, such as AngelShack’s GameChanger NXT workstation with a customisable privacy screen so that you can get on with your work, without distraction.
- Listen to the waves: If you can’t control noise propagation in the office by traditional acoustic control measures, today’s electronics offer new possibilities. One technique is to introduce random, natural sounds to the workplace environment that obscure or “mask” the sound of distracting conversations.
- Buzz off: Employees can escape to AngelShack’s HIVE, a semi enclosed booth for one complete with an ergonomically positioned slide away tray for your laptop and movement controlled lighting above.
- Design Thinking: Clever design principles that allow for sound absorption and diffusion are key. Spaces need to be properly planned in terms of where to position noisy spaces versus quiet spaces, and the introduction of buffers such as acoustic partition systems, screens and facades that prevent noise transfer from one space to another.