There are several scientific studies that can alarmingly tell us that managing noise and the sound environment in built spaces is a crucial factor – for general health, well-being and productivity. One of the world’s largest and continual studies of the Office goers – the Leesman Index, states that about 70% of the workforce today is not happy with the levels of noise in the workplace. It is a serious enough number to make us devise solutions and look for immediate improvements in our working environments. So here are some simple and thought-provoking tips which can help create better workspaces.
#1 Start with the Why
Actions should begin with a clearly formulated why, the reason for doing it. When it comes to creating a good acoustic environment at the office, it is easy to define why it benefits everyone: employers, employees, and society at large. Research shows that a good sound environment leads to:
- Increased well-being, less tiredness
- Increased job satisfaction
- Facilitated concentration
- Facilitated communication
- Lowering of stress hormones
- Fewer errors, increased accuracy
#2 There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Solution
Each office has different demands when improving the sound environment, depending on the office’s design and which activities take place inside it. Improvements should start with an assessment of office workers’ needs and the daily operations to prioritize between acoustic measures. When re-designing an office, e.g., transitioning it into an activity-based office, consider the effects it will have on the sound environment and take the opportunity to make improvements. There are some common denominators in offices with a good sound environment: a policy on small talk, separated spaces for quiet work and socializing, and high-quality sound-absorbing walls and ceilings, to name a few.
#3 Find the Sources of Noise Pollution
Noise in offices is generated in specific areas. By placing acoustic materials and sound absorbers as close to the noise source as possible, you optimize the effect it will have on the sound environment. Noise from co-workers is often a source of disturbances. A recent ‘Saint-Gobain Ecophon’ survey of office workers in Germany and Sweden found that office workers consider small talk the most disturbing noise, followed by sounds from keyboards and rhythmic tapping on the floor. Informal meetings, casual small talk, and sounds from the cafeteria often cause annoyance. It is important that people who communicate sit near each other while different workgroups are separated acoustically.
#4 Never Compromise on Quality
Sound absorbing panels on hard surfaces, particularly walls and ceilings, have a big impact on an office’s sound environment and the health, wellbeing, and productivity of the people working there. But there is a big difference between different panels, made of different materials. The recommended safe choice here is to use an acoustic material with an absorption quality of αw (Alpha w) = 0.9 or higher – also called class A. Other elements to quality should also be considered, including indoor air quality, fire safety, and sustainability performance. Assess products based on their compliance with third-party certifications.
#5 Think Three-Dimensionally
Sound moves in 3D, so a good start is to look around and up. Like the sky, the ceiling should make sound dissipate rather than reflect it. Sounds tend to bounce between hard surfaces. Adding sound absorbers to at least one of two opposing walls can do wonders for the sound environment – both in meeting rooms and in open spaces.
#6 Use Nature as a Hallmark
Through thousands of years of evolution, our sense of hearing has been optimized for outdoor environments. Today, we spend almost 90% of our time indoors in sound environments unnatural to our ears. According to Mr. Prateek Tandon, who heads the Saint-Gobain Ecophon acoustic solutions business in India – “This has a definite impact on our general well-being and performance unless some specific measures are undertaken. Indoor environments can be thoughtfully designed to resemble the sounds of nature, and thus we can strive to bring the outdoors in.” Biophilic design (biophilia meaning love of nature) of offices has proven long-term benefits for office workers. This can be done in an indirect way, such as imitating outdoor sound environments through acoustic planning, or in a more direct way by integrating natural elements in indoor environments.
For More Details: https://www.ecophon.com/in