Open office spaces are increasingly becoming more popular.  Up to three-quarters of office workers now do their work in an open office space.  An open plan working space can promote teamwork and effective communication.  However, there are problems too, excessive noise is one of the most common problems that can arise from working in an open office space.  Noise distraction can hinder communication and productivity when lots of people work in one area.  With little or no partitioning, noise levels can be particularly high and disruptive in open office spaces.

How To Reduce Noise Problems

Before you plan your office space, think about what jobs generate sound and which ones require it to be quieter.  Also think about the meeting rooms, printer stations, reception areas etc. These areas are considerably louder than others.  Planning which areas are louder than others will be very beneficial to the workers.

Partitions

A sound masking system should provide low-level background sound.  One that is designed badly maybe rejected by staff.

Cubicle partitions should be at least 52 inches high from the workstations, with sound absorbing materials on each of their sides.  This will help eliminate noise so your worker can concentrate on their work.

Acoustic Panels

According to Andy from Husht Acoustics Ltd “You can improve the acoustics of open office space with furnishings too.  Such as acoustic banners or panels which can be moved by the staff are a good way of using them to improve the room’s acoustics.  These are especially beneficial as they are portable and can be used if and whenneeded.”

For more private areas such as conference rooms etc use full height partitions to provide acoustic isolation for private conversations that need to be confidential.

Sound Absorption

Absorption is another way of reducing open office acoustics.  You will need to think about what surfaces you can use this on.  Ceilings and floors are very important.  You can get spray on acoustic products for concrete or beamed ceilings.  Most of the ceilings should have some kind of absorption qualities.  Floors such as carpet, cork, linoleum, will help absorb the sound of walking and footsteps.  Whereas thicker carpets will reduce the noise and help with absorbing some of the acoustics in the office.

If you have large ceiling lighting in your open office space this can reflect sound between workstations.  Therefore, this can cause aggravation in open office spaces. Use smaller light fittings for special lighting needs in the workplace

Floor Seating Plans

Where you seat everyone in your open office space will also determine your acoustics.  The further the people sit away from one another the more they will have more speech privacy.  Try to face them away from one another, seat workers on opposite ends.  If you stagger the entrances to the workstations there should be no direct line of sound or sight between people.

Refitting an office space with poor acoustics is a lot more expensive than planning properly at the beginning of your project.  These changes can be costly and very disruptive.

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