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Office Acoustics: The Sound of Productivity


With the dawn of open office plans, also comes the age of echoes. Our new large and feng-shui friendly offices are great for collaboration and teamwork, but how do these open offices affect our senses? And more specifically, how does the sound of an office affect our productivity within it?


Impressions Acoustic Solutions from Knoll

Noise pollution is one of the biggest complaints within an office. According to a study from the University of Sydney, noise pollution is the chief complaint amongst employees and lack of sound privacy was the number one factor contributing to poor workplace morale. This combination of noise-related issues creates a new area for designers and space planners to consider: The dead-space between walls and furniture.

It is now a requirement for planners to create design solutions that not just cater to the tactile and functional needs of an average office space, but the auditory functions as well. Sound, just like light, bounces off and can be reflected (or echoed in this case) off of various materials. When designing an office, especially an open floor plan office that creates echoes easily, planners must pay extra attention to materials used.

For instance, in order to control acoustics in a room, experts recommend avoiding shiny surfaces. David Holt, design director at Interior Architects, said “In a glass conference room sound will bounce between the reflective surfaces for a while, unless the length of the sound waves are limited by increasing absorption in other areas. Carpet or absorptive ceiling tiles (ACT or spray solutions) are useful in trapping a lot of sound, even if small amounts are used.”

By using carpets, foam and other sound absorbing materials, conversations from one end of the office will not be reflected and bounced around to the opposite end. But keep in mind that complete silence has separate, but equally harmful consequences. Some studies show  that certain people may be more productive when there is a bit of background noise. If you’re interested in exploring more noise reduction or absorption solutions, call us today at 913-894-8900.

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