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Managing Office Acoustics

Given the rise and rise of the open plan office, inevitably there has had to be consequences and in many case the worst one is poor office acoustics.  A noisy office environment can lead to employee distraction, stress, mistakes and in some cases absenteeism. These issues have been calculated to have a global cost running into billions of Euro annually.

Office acoustics and the control of them fall into 3 categories A, B and C.

Absorption deals with reverberation with a space which can lead to the clarity of speech being badly affected. Absorbent products in the form of wall or ceiling panels will help to reduce this issue. As a rule of thumb an area equivalent to 50% of the floor space should be treated.  Rooms can be over treated leaving the sound to appear ‘flat’ or ‘dead’.

Blocking can be dealt with by a physical barrier such as a desk mounted screen or full height partitions. A good level of sound reduction between rooms would be in the region of 40db on site which would speech is muffled but unintelligible. 

Control deals with the use of digital sound masking to increase the optimum background noise level in order to mask distraction with open plan or to provide privacy between rooms.

When office acoustics have been taken under control the benefits have been shown to include improved employee concentration, higher productivity, better quality of work more content employees.