Helpful Guides

Acoustic Solutions for Open-Plan Offices

By wizu | 16 March 2022

The open-plan office continues to be a popular layout for many businesses. However, many employees have trouble working in this environment. They complain of too much noise that distracts, reduces productivity, and increases stress. These are common problems with the open-plan office.

However, acoustic solutions are available to help keep the noise down while reducing stress in the workplace. It doesn’t have to be expensive to add acoustic solutions to your office. If you’re looking for some solutions to the noise problem in your office, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve put together information about acoustics and some solutions you can take to remedy the problem.


How Does Sound Travel in an Open Plan Office? 

Sound travels on waves that go from the source to the surrounding environment. Sound can be stopped when it meets a surface; some parts of the sound may be absorbed while other parts are reflected. Sound can bounce off hard surfaces yet is absorbed by softer surfaces.

When the energy from various sound sources comes together in a space, it adds to the sound in an area. This is called reverberation. The more reverberation in a room, the longer it takes for the sound to disappear.

In addition, sound waves lose their energy as they travel and bounce off objects. So, it can be helpful to place furniture or other fittings in the room to keep sound from crossing over a distance. The sound waves are suppressed, creating a more enjoyable environment where everyone can concentrate and get work done.


Why Are Acoustics Important in an Open-Plan Office? 

Increased noise levels in an open-plan office can create distractions for employees working in the space. Others develop headaches, migraines, and other physical problems due to loud sounds. Working in an open place office can be excruciating for these individuals.


Consider Acoustic Design for Your Open-Plan Office

If you’d like to cut down on the sound bouncing around your workplace, then start by considering the layout of the space. Where does sound seem to be a problem? Are there noticeable areas where sound seems to bounce more than in others?

Once you’ve gone through and figured out where sound is a problem, then consider creating a plan to redesign the office layout. For instance, placing desks in a cluster for each department may help keep noise to a minimum. Placing noisy office equipment in a different area can also cut down on sound bouncing and reverberation.


Acoustic Solutions for Open-Plan Offices

Here are some ways you can improve the acoustics in your open-plan office.


1. Install Soundproof Booths

Soundproof booths create a private space where employees can get their work done and even take calls. The booths create an “island” of quiet in an open-plan office. They’re also configured with lighting and climate control to ensure everyone stays comfortable in the space.


2. Install Work & Meeting Pods with Acoustic Screens

Another solution is the installation of work and meeting pods that have acoustic screens. These are made with upholstery materials that not only blend in with the rest of the office décor.

The workstations and pods are also equipped with acoustic materials and wrap-around walls to cut noise and create a more private workplace.


3. Acoustic Ceiling Pendant Lights

Installing acoustic ceiling pendant lights is another option to cut sound issues. These lights use acoustic materials and lighting to create peaceful spaces where everyone can work in peace and quiet.


4. Acoustic Room Dividers

Acoustic room dividers are another solution for cutting down on sound waves and reverberation in the open-plan office. The dividers are made of materials that absorb sound and add a stylish, modern touch to the office.

The dividers can also be rearranged when needed to create new spaces as needed.


5. Upholstered Lounges

Another option for an open-plan office is to install upholstered lounges. These are similar to dividers but are larger. They’re used to create quiet areas for small meetings or breakout areas. The lounges work to adsorb and diffuse sound to keep it from spreading.

Upholstered lounges come in a wide range of contemporary styles and colours. What a great way to create an oasis of quiet in the office and encourage collaboration while calming sound in the office.


6. Use Plants

Not only do plants work to clean and improve indoor air, but they also can help with sound management in an open-office layout. Plants also add a touch of nature, which is a great way to reduce stress and make the office look pretty.

Biophilic designs, such as plant walls or other areas of potted plants, work to reduce noise in an open-plan workplace environment. They also make the workplace more healthy and calm.


7. Hang Acoustic Baffles

If you don’t have much wall space for acoustic panels or dividers, then why not consider installing hanging acoustic baffles?

Acoustic baffles may be made of foam or other materials made to absorb sound. The baffles hang down from the ceiling and absorb any noise in an open-plan office. The main benefits of hanging baffles are that they don’t take up floor or wall space, and they can add a touch of colour and interest to an office.


8. Sound-Masking System

Sound masking is another option to cut the sound in an open-plan office. This is an acoustic technology that works to reduce noise and distractions. This tech works by creating an ambient background sound that targets the same frequency of sound waves, such as human speech and other office noises.

Sound masking tech doesn’t cancel sound; however, it keeps sound from travelling effectively. For instance, conversations from a distance are more challenging to understand. The result is that they’re not as distracting. The tech works to keep conversations and other sounds to a minimum, making the workplace quieter.


Summing It Up

As you can see, there are many different options to choose from when lessening sound in the office. We’ve included different types of solutions and price points to help you solve the sound issues in your open-plan office. It may take a mixture of solutions to find the optimal solution for sound and noise in  your workplace.

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