Acoustics

This recommendation contributes to improvements in User experience

To design for effective work, we must consider how to minimize noise, which has a significant negative impact on performance and health. Lack of speech privacy has been shown to be the single largest negative impact on employee engagement. Another study showed employees lose 86 minutes a day due to speech distractions. Clearly noise has an immediate negative impact on people’s ability to focus at work and can also increase fatigue. Solutions such as active noise cancellation, sound masking and other noise control technologies can have a real impact on the quality of worklife and well-being for employees. Planning approaches that offer different zones for different work activities can also keep noisy activities separate from quiet areas. 

Interior design features and sound deadening materials can work with noise control technologies elements and noise control technologies to minimize unwanted speech intelligibility, reducing employee distractions. Investing in the right acoustical workplace solution for each area, based on function and use, creates the necessary environment for focus, productivity, and innovation.

1

Provide dedicated quiet spaces and dedicated places where people can be loud.

2

Invest in the right acoustical materials and technologies for those loud and quiet areas based on their intended function and use.

3

Use sound-absorbing materials (such as ceiling tiles, carpet, wall surfaces that reduce overall noise levels and sound transmission without sacrificing design aesthetics.

4

Wear noise-cancelling earbuds as a last resort if you cannot locate an appropriate area to complete an important “heads down” task.

Read more

If you want to learn more, we suggest the following resources:

Eve Edelstein. Neuroscientists have figured out why you can’t concentrate at work. Quartz. September 2017.

S.P. Banbury, D.C. Berry. Office noise and employee concentration: identifying causes of disruption and potential improvements. Ergonomics. January 2005.

Stop Noise from Ruining Your Open Office, 2015, HBR. 

Workplace Acoustics Intervention Recap: The 3 Takeaways, WorkDesign Magazine, 2019.

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