Solving Office Noise: Business and Commercial Acoustics
Quality business and commercial acoustics are an important factor in high productivity and a stress-free work environment.
Open office layouts seem to be all the rage these days and many companies seem to be drawn to the look of re-purposing old warehouses, factory areas, and other large format commercial building designs into large, expansive office environments. And why not? After all, they usually look great and bridge the gap between vintage and modern architectural styles. These unique layouts also bring unique challenges with office acoustics.
What Are Business And Commercial Acoustics?
Unfortunately, in addition to the appealing design aesthetics, open office layouts often bring with them lots of sound problems too. Every day, we receive calls from companies looking to improve the sound quality of their new and existing office spaces. A typical open office layout has clusters of workstations with little to no partitions between them. In many cases (especially with older buildings), high ceilings and lots of hard surfaces for sound to bounce off. The results of this can lead to several types of noise issues including poor speech intelligibility, echo, and lack of privacy between workers and their clients (either over the phone or in person).
So, what are some ways of improving office acoustics to reduce echo, increase speech intelligibility, and provide privacy for the office workers you may ask?
Acoustic absorption is basically the act of adding soft materials to hard surfaces to reduce reflecting sound and creating a lower reverberation time. Much like standing in a cave, reverb or echo can really wreak havoc on speech intelligibility. Because of this lack of intelligibility, people talking in rooms with considerable reverb times tend to speak louder so that they can be heard over the echo. This can actually make the situation worse. Add in the sounds of running office equipment and you have a real mess on your hands.
Installing soft, absorptive materials helps to reduce the number of reflective surfaces in the room. This also reduces the amount of perceived echo as well. The room’s size often dictates how much absorptive material will be needed to achieve a perceivable difference in reduced echo. Other factors would include what the walls, ceiling, and floor consist of. For instance, a tile or concrete floor is much more reflective compared to one covered with pile carpet. Acoustic treatment can often complement and enhance the already well-thought out aesthetic requirements that the designer had in mind.
Clouds & Baffles
Clouds and baffles that are suspended from the ceiling are a great way to add absorption to an open office environment. This is because they can offer absorption on both sides. This type of treatment can be characterized by the direction in which it hangs. Clouds are hung horizontally with the floor/ceiling and baffles are hung vertically. Popular examples of cloud panels include the fabric-wrapped variety and the very popular Whisperwave style. You can even go as so far as to make them in a variety of shapes using something like our AcoustiClouds. Baffles can also be very effective and come in many of the same styles as the clouds do as well.
Wall and ceiling acoustic panels can be used to effectively reduce sound reflections on side walls and cubicles in open office floorplans. AlphaSorb® Fabric Wrapped Panels offer a wide variety of color choices and size options. Our Privacy Pal Partition Clips can be used in conjunction with back to back rigid acoustical panels to order to create a free-standing desktop acoustical partition. AlphaSorb®Art Acoustic Panels are great for displaying custom artwork, photography, and company logos while maximizing the absorptive capabilities of the wall(s) they are placed on. High Impact Panels can be used to provide privacy between workstations and double as a tackable surface area.
Why Are Business And Commercial Acoustics Important?
Acoustical considerations are extremely important in office spaces, particularly in open offices. An overheard conversation or distracting noises may seem like a minor annoyance, but it can significantly reduce productivity for workers. And if a confidential conversation in a conference room is overheard in adjacent area, the consequences can be extensive.
Acoustical considerations extend beyond speech privacy. For example, comfortable ambient sound should be maintained throughout the spaces for the mental well-being of the office workers.
Examples of Business And Commercial Acoustics
Tips and Reminders for Business And Commercial Acoustics
Acoustical treatment is best applied during the design phase of the office but can also be implemented after the construction of the office is completed. You can do this in steps to meet your budget by starting with treatment that achieves the most results.
Don’t get caught in the trap where you do not do anything because you cannot do it all at once. Whether the room is an open office, conference room, or office lobby, Acoustical Solutions has the materials to meet your sound absorption needs within your budget.
Ultimately, the layout and size of the room will determine what treatments will be the best choice. Contact one of our sales representatives and provide us with pictures and dimensions of the space. This is often the best way to get started with this kind of project.
To learn more about how Acoustical Solutions can solve your noise control problems, use our contact form, call one of our Acoustical Sales Consultants at (800) 782-5742, or visit us on the web at acousticalsolutions.com.
Q: I have some office cubes (10′ x 10′ x 10’ceiling) that has severe reverb. one has 8′ tall glass walls on 3 sides. I was thinking about pyramids on ceiling and 2′ down on walls. Would this work or would clouds be better?
Since you do not really have high ceilings currently, I would not really recommend cloud panels as they will make the ceiling feel too low to whomever is working in these areas. For areas this size I would recommend installing around 40 sq. ft. of absorptive material to achieve a substantially lower reverb time then you have currently. If possible, try to install the absorption at speech level (usually 3-4 feet off the floor); in the area that is mostly glass you will probably have to treat whatever area you have available that isn’t glass for best results there. Pyramid foam should certainly work, but you could also look at our Acoustic Fabric Wrapped Panels as well if you wanted something more traditional looking.
Please feel free to call me with any additional questions. I would be happy to talk you through your noise issue and offer any possible solutions.