Today’s workspaces are shifting away from cubicles and offices and much more frequently reverting back to an open concept layout. Open concept offices have proven to boost communication, collaboration, and productivity and are even boasted as being more economical than traditional layouts.
But as increasingly dense workforces are operating in open concept workspaces, another challenge is arising: managing noise. Think of the constant sounds of an office in operation: printers and scanners at work, cell phones buzzing, keyboards clicking, talking and chatter.
Whether for the sake of maintaining privacy or limiting distractions, controlling noise is of paramount importance. Luckily, there are a number of effective ways to do so.
Here are 4 ways you can achieve sound privacy in your office.
Try to Avoid Hard Surfaces
As you get underway in your efforts to reduce noise and sound travel in your office, do your best to avoid hard surfaces as much as possible in order to maximize results.
This isn’t to say that your office needs to be devoid of them – that would be next to impossible. But by minimizing hard surfaces in the office – things like laminate, concrete and hard-surface floors – you help limit the ability of sound to travel.
Acoustic Clouds, Ceiling Tiles, and Flooring
When sound waves hit solid surfaces such as ceilings or floors, they reverberate and bounce back out. So, when you’re looking at the best ways to create sound privacy in your office, the first places you should be looking are up and down.
Based on the sheer amount of ceiling and floor space in any given office, they are a natural place to start. The good news is that you can actually leverage them to absorb a lot of noise.
One option to do so are acoustic clouds. They are not only functional in reducing ambient noise in a workspace, but they can also be used to improve aesthetics in office design.
Boasting stylish lines and soft shapes, acoustic clouds are ceiling mounted panels that hang down horizontally over a workspace and trap sound waves, preventing them from echoing. To do so, they use a porous outer surface that allows sound to penetrate coupled with an inner core of foam or fiber that absorbs the sound.
Acoustic ceiling tiles and flooring operate in the same way, turning the largest surface areas in most office spaces into sound absorption tools.
Sound Masking Technology
You can also elect to implement a more high-tech option for sound privacy: sound masking. Sound masking doesn’t do anything to eliminate noise like active noise control techniques like acoustic clouds, ceiling tiles or flooring. In fact, sound masking actually leverages noise to provide privacy by covering up unwanted sounds.
Sound masking creates sound through special digital generators and distributes it through unseen speakers in an area. The sound is qualified as broad band random – also known as white noise or “pink” noise – and conveys no information about itself to a listener. With sound masking, the sound spectrum and level are specifically shaped to provide the degree of privacy desired by the occupants of an area.
Essentially, sound masking covers up noise and provides privacy by creating sound that listeners don’t even realize they’re hearing.
Strategic Use of Plant Life and Natural Elements
Believe it or not, plant life goes a long way in reducing noise. Strategically placed plants can eliminate noise pollution in the office and change the acoustics in a room by reducing reverberation time and will effectively absorb distracting noise.
Stems, leave branches, and wood help absorbs sound. Rough bark and thick, fleshy leaves are particularly good at this on account of their dynamic surface area.
Whether it’s small plants and ferns to miniature trees to full-on interior green walls, plant life and natural elements can play an integral part in sound reduction. They can also be a modern, stylish and refreshing addition that employees will appreciate.
Glass Partitions and Designated Areas
There are a time and place for everything. Sometimes noise and chatter can be stimulating. Other times they can be overwhelming. In addition to minimizing noise travel, another viable option is to create designated areas within an open concept office that are conducive to both noise and quiet. In doing so, you empower employees to find an area that best suits their needs.
This doesn’t mean a total office overhaul. It can be as simple as creating private work pods that block out sound and allow employees to focus.
Utilizing glass is another way to create privacy and minimize noise without the need for permanent walls. Glass partitions can often we moved with ease as needed and provide separation from the rest of the office without interrupting the open concept flow.
Sound privacy is integral in any workspace. Luckily there are efficient and effective ways to achieve it. By minimizing the extent to which sound can travel freely throughout your office, you can boost privacy and reduce distractions.