In order to be happy and productive at work, your employees need the right environment. There are many aspects that can contribute to a poor workspace, such as an uncomfortable desk setup, or even an area that lacks temperature control. However, another factor that needs to be considered is noise. The things that generate noise in your office can range from conversation to machinery. If the noise is excessive, not only does it become difficult to concentrate, but in extreme cases, it can even become a health and safety issue too.
In today’s post, we will look at methods of lowering office noise pollution, an issue that has a negative effect on 63% of employees. Here are some steps you can take to reduce yours, to encourage a happy and productive workplace as a result.
To understand how sound can negatively impact a space, you need to go back to basics and look at how sound travels in the first place. Usually, office walls are made from plaster and are painted. Floors are often made from hard tiles. Surfaces such as these bounce the sound around. If there’s lots of noise in the area, whether it be conversation or equipment being moved around, then the sound travels in all directions. It becomes impossible to control, making the space distracting to work or hold conversations in.
On the contrary, acoustic panels are designed to absorb sound. Think of how recording studios have textured walls to enhance the recording, and stop the sound bouncing off the wall creating an echo. The same technology can be used in office spaces too. While you aren’t necessarily looking to make a hit record, what acoustic panels will do is contain the sound. If your office environment is prone to echos, acoustic panels are ideal. An added bonus is that it adds a layer of privacy to conversations, and can also help insulate the room too.
Low noise machinery
Depending on the nature of your business, you may have machinery running in the main office. If lots of people are working in this environment, it could be negatively impacting their mental and physical health. There are several ways you can combat this issue, starting with opting for low noise machinery. If it’s not possible to replace your machines with quieter models, then you should look to shield others from the noise. This can be done through the use of earplugs or physical screening.
The design of your office can also play a part here too. While open place office spaces make for a light and airy working environment, they can be unsuitable in noisy environments. In such cases, it’s a good idea to have the machinery located in another room that’s surrounded by noise-cancelling technology. We’ve previously talked about the psychology of office design, which is worth reading up on if you haven’t already. Essentially, the office needs to work for all those who use the space. This can be a challenge where machinery is involved, but with the right strategy, it can be done.
Reduce Unnecessary Noise
If you were to take a sound recording of your office when it’s in full flow, what would you hear? From squeaky chairs to the sounds of footsteps hitting a hard floor, there’s probably a lot of noise that can be cut out. As we’ve mentioned, using the right materials is important so that the noise doesn’t bounce. However aside from this, you need to look out for other offenders. For example, poor insulation or even a loud air conditioning unit.
Everything that is creating a noisy atmosphere is potentially hampering your business output, so think of it as a cost-cutting measure if anything to address this. On that note, while background music can sometimes aid concentration, loud or attention-grabbing music will do the opposite. If your employees are able to wear headphones, then this is another way they can cancel the noise out. Remember, if they can’t concentrate then the work can’t happen.
Soft seating/ furnishings
We all know what it’s like when you walk into an empty office/ room and start talking… Echo, echo, echoooo. But if you add a few pieces of furniture and some soft seating for an office, that echo soon goes away.
We found that one of the best ways to reduce echos and noise pollution is to make sure that you have some form of soft seating around the office. This is great to noise reduction due to the very nature of the soft furnishings. The absorbent characteristics of pieces like a sofa or armchair make them great for dampening the sound of laser printers, typing and even just a conversations across the way.
If you start to pair this with something like zoning or even acoustic panels, you’ll really find that your space starts to come together and develop into a great office to work in. It’ll be quiet, easy to work in and have fewer distractions so that each member of the team can better enjoy their time working there.
There are many different tasks that happen within an office. From phone calls to meetings, and even group discussions. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach could allow productivity to slip, especially if your employees are unable to concentrate. Or if crucial details are missed because they cannot hear the conversation properly. That’s why zoning is always a good idea. Especially if your office space is open plan!
Think of your key activities and develop zones for each. For example, a dedicated ‘quiet room’ for meetings or confidential calls. If there’s a particularly noisy section of your office, be sure to keep this well away from areas where others are trying to concentrate. You can also break the zones up with physical partitions and soft furnishings to absorb the noise even further.
To Sum Up
While it’s impossible to avoid all noise in an office, reducing any distracting sounds is hugely beneficial in promoting employee productivity and overall wellbeing. As well as considering the layout of your office, you can also implement tactics such as acoustic panelling or soft furnishing to reduce noise. By removing the distractions, your team will be able to concentrate better. Most of all, they will feel happy and productive in the environment.
Want to find out more about lowering office noise pollution for your business? ACI is here to help. We’ve been helping businesses reimagine their office and commercial spaces since 2009. Based in Nottingham, we cover the whole of the UK including Derby, Birmingham, Leicester and Manchester. From small re-fits to something a little more ambitious office refurbishment, drop us a line on 0115 939 7572 with your project enquiry and we’ll be in touch.