Accoustics at Work: The evolution of the open plan office.

To understand the problem of noise in the work place, it is first useful to examine the reasons why the open plan office came into being.
Until perhaps 20 years ago, the private, cellular space was the ideal. The need to reduce the amount of expensive floorspace per worker led to the cubicle. And as technology has brought greater freedom from a single desk and as the need to control cost has intensified, the truly open plan office has arrived.
Yet as barriers have come down, ambient noise levels have risen; creating a tipping point, where the sound economics of densely populated open plan offices have begun to falter, as noise intrusion impacts on productivity. To alleviate this ever-growing problem, we must address 5 systems in the office:
• Office Furniture
• Ceilings
• Walls and Windows
• Floors
• Noise masking systems

The challenge we face is not to soundproof the work place. Rather, it is to create acoustically private spaces that are suited to a variety of tasks and workers. Silence is not golden, in terms of productivity or privacy, as both require their own optimal level of ambient noise.
Generational issues also arise, as the old and young are proven to react very differently to noise. Traditionalists and Baby Boomers are likely to prefer a very low level of ambient noise, while Generation X workers and Millennials are far more likely to favour a louder aural backdrop, having been allowed to watch TV while homework is done, and even to work whilst listening to iPods.
 
Workers born before 1945 are characterised by sociologists as Traditionalists. They will more than likely have begun their working life in a private office and will feel happier working in an almost silent environment. People born between 1946 and 1964 are known as Baby Boomers and while more attuned to noise than Traditionalists, they can be ambivalent with regard to background noise.
Generation X is the term applied to those born between 1965 and 1977 and who have grown up to be more tolerant to noise in all its forms.
Millenials have all been born since 1978 and have not only grown up with the Internet, but also frequently prefer a high level of background noise while working.

Analyse your acoustic environment.
Yet now, our expertise in acoustic management has allowed us to develop a unique and simple system that offers accurate acoustic ‘scoring’ of office environments, quickly and easily assessing the Reverberation Time of every space. A design solution is then produced that will allow the creation of acoustically efficient, and therefore, productive working spaces.
The Acoustics at Work analysis system offers acoustic ‘scoring’ of office environments. It allows you to input specific information about an existing office which is then analysed by our Acoustics Specialist.
The acoustic properties of every surface and resulting Reverberation Time of the space are assessed and a report is produced rating your office according to our points system. Each product in our catalogue is worth a specific amount of acoustics points allowing you freedom of choice in the acoustic design of your office.
Until now, assessing the acoustic qualities of any work place has been the job of an expert. It has required an understanding, not only of the acoustic properties of office furniture, screens, floors and ceilings, but a thorough grounding in the properties and behaviour of sound.