Sound absorbing desk top screens

We get lots of calls from customers who would like to improve the sound quality in their

offices. Too many times we have heard that the noise from a colleague when they are on the phone is very distracting and they would like to resolve this problem.

Well, CH Workspace do sell proper acoustic screens which will do the job but it’s not as simple as that.  The difference in price between a basic cloth upholstered screen, and a sound absorbing screen is significant. At least double would be a good estimation in most cases.

This is because a basic office screen is, in simple terms, a board with fabric over it. The board is solid and has a couple of holes drilled into the base, into which the screen clamps fit.

If you order a pinnable screen, then the board is a soft fibreboard into which pins can be pushed.

When these are compared to an acoustic screen, you can see where the additional cost goes. An acoustic screen will be made as an MDF frame into which sits large sections of a special sound absorbing foam. The screens are then upholstered in a standard office screen fabric ( it does not have to be as resilient to wear as a chair fabric).

This foam is designed to absorb 75% of all the soundwaves which hit it, which means that they are incredibly effective at reducing overall ambient office noise.

But, although they are incredibly efficient, they only represent a small percentage of the total surface area of the office.  For example a standard height office which is five metres square, will have seventy three square metres of reflective surface, even if the floor area is discounted.

If there were, say 8 desks in this area, set out in groups of two facing each other ( a fairly standard configuration nowadays), and a dividing screen was purchased for each group of two desks, then the total surface area of the office screens would be around 5 metres ( if you count both sides of the screens)

So these highly efficient, sound absorbing office screens only represent  7% of the total  surface area, which would mean that even working at 75% efficiency,  their effect would hardly be noticed.

There is a psychological effect, which is difficult to quantify, as the screens do offer the individual a feeling of greater privacy, and once you know that the screens are technical noise reducing screens, then you tend to believe that they are making a difference ( in the same way that if a wine expert tells you a wine is good quality, you tend to believe them).

But in reality they make so little difference to the whole area that the improvement in sound quality cannot be noticed.