Feel the Noise: Quieting an Open Office Environment
December 10, 2019
Perhaps you grew up watching each year as the Grinch complained of “all the noise, noise, noise, noise!” And if your team works in an open office environment, you might still be hearing those complaints.
There are lots of great reasons behind the trend towards open offices, greater teamwork and collaboration among them. But the downsides are well documented also: lack of privacy and difficulty in concentrating, thanks to all that noise. Some projects require quiet concentration, and some conversations should be private. So what to do?
There are many ways to combat the cacophony of the open office. If you’ve already addressed things like the surfaces around you (carpet, not tile; acoustical ceilings, not drywall), you can consider strategically placed acoustical panels on the walls or suspended overhead. Partitions can help also, deadening sound without sacrificing the feel of your open plan.
Obviously, the furniture matters a great deal as well. Fabric finishes will absorb sound better than hard surfaces, just as with your floors and ceilings. And with furniture, the where can be just as important as the what. Consult with a design specialist to help you make the most of your space.
Introducing private spaces for use as needed is a common solution. This can range from partitioning off a traditional room to adding small, private pod-type units to the office, allowing one or a few people to shut themselves off from the rest to focus on that deadline or get on that important client call.
White noise machines can be deployed either globally – one unit that shrouds the whole space in pleasant white noise – or locally, with individual machines in strategic places.
And sometimes the solutions are even simpler: plants are good sound-deadeners, with the added benefit of improving air quality. You might even find a stopgap solution in providing noise-cancelling headphones for team members to use when they need to shut out the world and focus.
Questions about getting the most from your open office plan? Contact Office Images.