Most modern office space is designed to be open plan – but since open plan offices became popular, there have been changes in working practices, communications and technology that make the traditional open plan model less ideal.
- People now have less space to work in. A typical workstation in the seventies was 12 square feet. Today’s workstations are between six feet and eight square feet.
- There’s more of an emphasis on teamwork, which means that people often work in informal groups with other workers, while colleagues nearby are trying to concentrate.
- Conversation ‘leaking’ from mobiles and voice mail has increased dramatically.
- Phones, PDAs, pagers and electronic ring tones have become common workplace interruptions.
- Wi-Fi and wireless technology means that employees aren’t chained to their desk or PC – they can move around the office.
Noisy offices aren’t just a minor irritation though. Studies have shown that the noise factor in most workspaces affects employee stress levels and productivity, inevitably leading to absenteeism and high staff turnover. So, it pays to reduce the noise levels before they start to cause problems.
One case study involving a US call centre showed that when employers made the acoustic corrections to their office, there was a 300% increase in worker satisfaction with the noise level reduction, and a 140% increase in satisfaction with the overall work environment. After six months, productivity had increased by an average of 19.8% per worker.*
Creating an acoustic shadow
One way to control the amount of noise that affects virtually every open plan office is to use screens to create an acoustic shadow. An acoustic shadow is what happens when noise that would normally be heard is blocked, because the sound is either absorbed or somehow deflected.
Arranging acoustic screens effectively can protect workers from distracting noises and conversation, in addition to enhancing privacy. Unfortunately, to make standard screens effective, they need to be as close as possible to the source of noise – and as tall and wide as is practical. To avoid the need for intrusive office furniture, smaller acoustic screens provide the perfect solution.
Our screens are engineered to not only block sound, but to absorb it, because we know this helps to reduce the amount of noise in the workplace. We do this by installing integral Lamaphon Acoustic Core into every one of our screens.
Acoustic panels for walls and storage
To reduce workplace noise levels, it also helps to introduce more soft, absorbent surfaces. Our wall mounted acoustic panels don’t just come in a range of contemporary designs – we can also print your own images onto an open weave fabric to make your own bespoke wall art with a purpose. You can also reduce noise echo from metal and wooden storage furniture with noise absorbing acoustic panels and brighten up the office at the same time.
Where to start
We usually suggest that you trial the screens in one area of the office to make sure that you’re happy with the overall effect – and when you realise how effective the screens are, which we know you will, you can get back in touch with us and roll out the new system to the rest of the office.
* “ATCO International Co: A Case study of office speech noise distraction and worker productivity”
ATCO International Co and DynaSound Inc. 1997.