In sticking with recent trends, many office managers have renovated their buildings to feature an open floor plan. While this approach has a number of benefits when compared to traditional arrangements, there are some very serious drawbacks to consider, too.
A recent study by Oxford Economics, which polled more than 1,200 professionals in various industries, found that more than half of modern employees have some complaints about the noise in their office. When you consider the fact that almost 75 percent of all survey respondents work within a setting that has an open floor plan, it’s easy to see how serious of a problem this really is.
An Open Office Environment With Walls
Managers who want a quieter workplace without having to sacrifice the inventiveness of the open office design might take a liking to the concept of the glass cubicle. This gives you the benefit of separating employees and reducing noise pollution while still maintaining high levels of visibility and light transfer between cubicles.
Masking Office Noise With Ambient Sound
Although this one might sound counterintuitive, you can actually drown out excess noise pollution by interjecting your own audio stream into the office. White noise generators are a great solution, but some workers would prefer something with actual music or ambience. There are a plethora of CDs and MP3s that are meant specifically for adding background noise to an environment, so there’s no shortage of options when it comes to finding something that everyone in the office can agree with.
Those who work in a casual office environment might even let their employees bring in their own music. Whether this will be played on an intercom system for the entire office to hear or confined to a personal set of headphones is up for you to decide. You’ll likely need to screen any musical suggestions, especially if they will be played for the entire office, but the results can be quite fruitful. According to one recent study, 88 percent of all test subjects performed better and faster while listening to music.
Meeting Standards and Regulations
Depending on your industry, there may be any number of rules or regulations that dictate the amount of noise pollution in your office or facility. In this case, it’s critical for your company to undergo the proper acoustic noise testing when soundproofing your place of business. Apart from preserving the health of your employees, ensuring compliance with any laws can keep you away from legal trouble and out of the U.S. court system.
Installing Sound-Reducing Hardware
The use of acoustic-cancelling insulation, flooring, wall treatments and other materials can go a long way in reducing or even eliminating unwanted noise pollution. Although such features were once bulky, unwieldy and unsightly, both the aesthetics and usability of soundproof hardware has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few decades. What was once reserved for cutting-edge recording studios and concert halls is now being used in office buildings, factory warehouses and even residential homes.
Sound-deadening drywall or fiberboard can be used to maintain the modern look of your office building. Conversely, those who want a distinctive look can install individual acoustic panels on walls and ceilings. Commonly used in modern recording and television studios, acoustic panels often include a unique and innovative visual appeal of their own. If you’re feeling exceptionally crafty or if you want to cut down on your overall expenses, you might even try your hand at making your own acoustic panels.
Insulation, sealant and even sheets of vinyl can be used for filling in gaps in framework and wrapping pipes. Although these treatments might not be necessary to achieve your desired level of soundproofing, they will ultimately result in a quieter office building that will provide greater comfort for all.
Reducing Unwanted Noise and Maximizing Comfort
According to Environmental Health Perspectives, approximately 30 million workers within the United States are experiencing some amount of hazardous, harmful or unwanted noise at work. Depending on the size of your office, some of these individuals might be within earshot as we speak.
If you’re a business owner or manager who wants to show your staff you care about their long-term health and wellness or if you just want to ramp up productivity or efficiency, the tips outlined above will certainly provide a great start.
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