Office noise: It’s a productivity killer, an annoyance and sometimes even a health and safety issue. That’s why reducing noise should always be on the list of considerations when designing an office space. Acoustic science has identified many of the causes and solutions for sound transmission in the office environment. Effective noise dampening methods can be built in to the layout of an office in the design phase or retrofitted when renovation isn’t possible.
From the ceiling to the floor, here are some considerations to keep in mind when designing an office space:
- Ceiling tiles with acoustic properties absorb sound effectively. Particularly in work spaces with hard ceilings such as plaster — a notorious noise enhancer — installing acoustic ceiling tiles with an NRC (noise reduction coefficient) of 50 percent (.50) or better will substantially reduce noise reflection.
- Acoustic panels covered with noise-absorbing fabric can be mounted on walls. Available in a range of decorative colors and designer styles, these panels absorb ambient sound and reduce echo in work spaces. Studies show that the echo factor in noisy work spaces can make the human voice unintelligible or muddled, even though you may hear the other party speaking.
- Unlike heat that rises naturally, sound waves travel in all directions equally, including down. Hard surface floors of concrete, tile or wood do not absorb sound but instead send it bouncing back into the office environment. Simply carpeting a hard floor atop a layer of thick carpet padding effectively removes the floor as a source of sound transmission. Where carpeting is not feasible in a particular work environment, rubber tiles might be best, as they too absorb noise.
- Technology also offers hope for the noisy workplace. Digital sound masking systems actually introduce a low level of digital sound at a specific wavelength similar to the human voice. This blocks out the ambient chatter of nearby conversations and makes close, person-to-person voice communication more audible. It also enhances speech privacy in crowded offices.
Since 1988, Nova Solutions has been on the leading edge of technology furnishings for the modern workplace. Ask us for more information about incorporating noise reduction when designing an office space.