Virtual Collaboration and increased acoustics
As we slowly pave a path back to the workplace, the new normal will be a little different to what we once knew. Changing circumstances will create paradigm shifts for employees and business owners alike.
For most, the immediate future of our return to work plans involve fundamental work practices being distended to allow staff to continue working from home. This has required serious consideration to the use of digital solutions and a massive increase in the digitalisation of the workplace.
From a workplace design perspective, an increase in virtual collaboration as staff continue to work from home, or consciously replace face-to face meetings, means we need new spatial and technical solutions to maintain quality and acoustics.
Unwanted noise and lack of privacy are amongst the top workplace complaints and poor office acoustics can negatively impact staff health and wellness, in some instances causing increased stress and fatigue levels.
There are several strategies that can be implemented to hack an open plan office and make it more acoustically appropriated for comfortable use. It’s as easy as ABC!
“Absorbing” noise refers to the act of minimizing noise by absorbing it into porous materials that can catch and hold the sound, rather than bounce it back like a hard surface would.
Sound should be captured as close to the source as possible and therefore you may want to consider products installed on walls or suspended low from the ceiling. There are now numerous products available such as wall decorations, or suspended baffle ceilings that can drop over bench’s or workstations in open plan areas, enabling the absorption of sound close to the source. Plants are also a great tool to help in absorbing sound.
B is for “blocking” excess noise. By introducing barriers between the noise source and the listener you block sound from travelling from one to another. This can be done through strategic placement of screens, barriers, walls or even furniture between the noise source and others.
You may want to consider incorporating furniture products such as phone booths, partitions or pods that will help stop soundwaves in their tracks. Additionally, there are already a plethora of temporary desk partitioning solutions coming onto the market in response to the new demands of COVID-19 and if chosen carefully these can help in both blocking the spread of the virus, while blocking excess noise at the same time. Chat to one of our furniture consultants today about how we can assist you in attaining the right solutions for your workplace.
“Covering” noise means masking unwanted sound with new, computer-generated sound. These are mostly organic sounds that people are accustomed to hearing, such as nature sounds or white noise sounds that are smoother and more soothing across frequencies and allow us to block out, or make it harder to comprehend conversational sounds which might block our concentration levels.
Unlike the other solutions, covering doesn’t mean eliminating sound completely, but rather making it disappear enough so that it does not drill into our consciousness. Covering noise is particularly useful in situations where privacy, rather than noise level is the issue. If the new introduced sound matches the frequency of voices in the space, it becomes harder to distinguish between the two and supports concentration for more focussed work.
Our team of workplace design experts are here to help you in your transition back to the workplace. If you are struggling with acoustics in your own workplace or if you have any other queries related to your COVID-19 return to work plans get in touch with one of our team here.