A well designed and laid out office can help to attract and retain good staff. The modern trend is all about open-plan, with pro-collaborative work spaces featuring cube-less cube-lands, and office-less offices. These types of offices certainly look the business, but come with their own sets of challenges too.
Open plan office spaces can often improve the amount of natural light available for working in, and improve the well-being of staff too, according to an abstract from a recent report entitled “Effects of realistic office day-lighting and electric lighting conditions on visual comfort, alertness and mood.”
The main downside to these types of open plan working areas are that they can generate an awful lot of accumulative noise. Trying to finish your report while your co-worker shouts into his phone at the next desk is never any fun, so it’s important that these challenges are managed effectively. Here are some tips and ideas for managing the noise level in your workplace to ensure a happy and productive workforce.
Allocate quiet and loud areas
If you have a large open plan office area, you can consider allocating specific sections of the office; one dedicated as a quiet area, and one dedicated as a loud area. The quiet area concept works on the same principle as having a quiet carriage on a train. It can provide a more peaceful environment for holding meetings or purely providing the opportunity for quiet thought.
Having a loud area within an open plan office is great for lunch-breaks or collaborative discussions. They are useful for team building providing the noise is managed so as not to disturb those working around them, or those working in quiet areas.
Increase background noise
Although it sounds somewhat weird, increasing the level of background noise can actually make a noisy environment quieter. The type of noise we are talking about here is so-called “white noise,” such as the background hum of fans or air conditioning. This type of noise can make overheard conversation less intelligible, therefore making them easier to block out.
Some people advocate having background music playing softly, although it should be music without words, as words can be distracting.
Incorporate noise absorbing material
Any hard surfaces in open plan offices act as reflectors, bouncing noise around. By creating more soft surface areas in large open plan offices, more of the noise can be absorbed. Carpeting rather than tiling is a good example.
There are also a number of acoustic materials that are specifically designed to absorb noise. These can be fitted to both ceilings and walls.
No, we don’t mean this in the literal sense. Blowing a whistle is hardly likely to detract from the noise level. What we mean is speaking up about any machinery near you that might be annoying and/or distracting.
While a piece of machinery next to your desk may be noisy, people over the other side of the office may not be aware of it, so don’t be shy – speak up. It can probably be re-sited elsewhere or changed for a quieter machine.
Install office screens
Office screens are a great way to reduce noise in a large open-plan office. As well as stopping sound from bouncing around, they are also useful for marking-out boundaries, or sectioning-off departments.
Here at Office Furniture Online we stock a wide range of office screens. Clear or tinted or frosted acrylic office screens for example are excellent for allowing the passage of light and they are also useful for defining an area, whether as desk screens or free-standing screens. Concertina office screens that act as room dividers are another great innovation. Because of their flexibility they can be fully expended to block off a specific area, or partially or completely folded affording great versatility.
Whatever your need, we have the right office screens for you. Many are available for next day delivery and all are offered at competitive prices.