A Busy Office is Good…Until It Isn’t
There’s nothing quite like the buzz of a busy office full of energy, communication, and employees happily getting things done. But there’s one by-product of a busy office that no one enjoys: noise! Too much noise, even if it’s the noise of a productive workplace, can lead to distraction and stress. Let’s look at what we can do to control excess sound and maintain a workable workplace.
Diffusion Vs. Absorption: Which is Right for the Office?
There are two main ways to control noise in the workplace: Diffusion and Absorption. Let’s look at both theories and discover which works best.
As sound waves travel through the air, they bounce off any solid surface they encounter. An empty room has an echo as sound bounces back and forth from wall to ceiling to floor to wall again with nothing to stop it. Sound diffusion breaks up sound waves, scattering them evenly in multiple directions, lowering the intensity and volume of the sound.
While sound diffusion works by reflecting sound waves, sound absorption works by…well, absorbing them. Achieved mostly through architectural means, sound absorption is difficult to achieve in an existing space; insulated walls and closed floor plans are the most effective sound absorption techniques.
While filling an empty space with carpets and furniture will absorb some sound, when it comes to quality sound control in the office, diffusion is the name of the game.
How to Diffuse Sound
Diffusion has the added benefit of preserving the liveliness of the office without allowing sound to rise to the level of distraction. Diffusion can be achieved quickly and simply through several applications.
Ceiling-hanging screens are a terrific low-cost, low-impact way to create discreet spaces throughout the workplace. In addition to creating areas for collaboration or individual focus, the use of hanging screens quite effectively diffuses sound in an open office plan.
HON Acoustics hanging screens allow light and air to pass through while disrupting the sound waves that add to office noise pollution. Screens also create an opportunity for visual flair in your office, while being a practical and aesthetically-pleasing sound control solution.
Ceiling & Wall Tiles
Similar to hanging screens, sound diffusing tiles can be applied to ceilings and walls in any space. The surface of the tiles reflect soundwaves in different directions and at different intensities, diffusing the sound across the space.
Where is the Printer?
When creating the layout of your workplace, consider the location of loud machinery and busy spaces. The middle of an open office may seem like a convenient place for a copy machine but imagine all that noise radiating from the center of your workplace. A quiet corner is better, and a dedicated copy room is best for cutting down on printing noise.
Your Personal Workspace
You may not be able to personally control the level of noise in your workplace, but here are some ways to manage noise pollution in your workspace.
>Noise cancelling headphones use microphones to pick up the low-frequency sounds. Then the headphones generate inverse sound waves, literally cancelling out the noise around you. This technology achieves up to 95% less noise, allowing you to either focus on the task at hand or escape from the world around you.
It may be cliché, but the squeaky wheel really does get the grease. Even in 2022, there’s no better way to defeat squeaks than by keeping a can of WD40 handy.
Make sure any furniture without wheels or rollers has a set of Quiet Feet to reduce those awful squeaks and squawks and reduce the wear and tear caused by pushing or pulling across the floor.
Ironically, sometimes the best way to ignore the distracting sounds around you is to create some noise of your own. A nice desk fan can create a comfortable environment while doubling as a white noise machine, giving your personal workspace an ambient sound that allows for focus and productivity.