Help! My noisy office is killing me. We can’t hear ourselves think.

Help, my noisy office is killing me. We can’t hear ourselves think!

We get this call for help probably three or four times a week from people that are frustrated because they can’t do their best work. They can’t produce for their company because of the disturbance of unwanted noise from other teams around, resulting from poor acoustic control strategies or complete lack thereof.

What is your acoustic mitigation plan?

More typical office fit-out companies put together a free plan for a client that will achieve the operational needs in terms of seating positions, storage, kitchens and all that sort of thing with no plan for the acoustic mitigation at all. We then get these desperate calls from people saying ‘Hey, we see can do some great work on your website. We can see how you have a keen interest in acoustic control & mitigation strategies, how can you help us? Can you put up some glass walls for us?’. Glass partitions are not the answer on their own. Glass is a reflective surface; when you throw a ping pong ball at glass, it will bounce back. Sounds acts in the same way and will bounce around the room. There is more to it than just putting up some glass partitions and hoping that it will resolve your acoustic issues.

Putting up plaster or glass walls also trigger a building permit. This is because paths of travel in the event of a fire change, exit lighting changes and disability access must be considered.
The crux of the issue is: do it right in the first pass. Part of being a great steward as a designer for your client is cost control; it must be clever, not expensive. Acoustic design needs to be part of the design strategy for your new office or the office you’re designing for a client to avoid the sad reality of a new space that looks amazing, but can’t deliver on acoustic functionality. It’s not expensive. We need to allow those using the workspace to do their best work effectively without the trauma of unwanted noise. We can’t have people plugging in to music to block out their co-workers. That’s it’s kind of like a Personal Protection Equipment idea which is the last resort. Music is distracting; there are lots of schools of thoughts on this, but it does reduce some of your brain power.

The bottom line is we need to do it right the first time. Acoustic control needs to be part of the office design.

If you have any questions, we do have a bunch of strategies we can implement as Band-Aids, but far better that it’s implemented as part of your initial design scope, to allow your team, your clients, to do their best work in order to be creative, happier, more productive communities for a better return on investment.

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