The open plan office. It is praised for its aid of collaborative behaviour and the breakdown of workplace hierarchies. However, it is also criticized for high levels of distraction and a lack in productivity amongst the workforce.

With a mixture of conversations, tapping of keyboards, ringing phones and more to contend with; it's no wonder that employees are getting distracted! Whilst your workplace could be bright and inspiring with the best design in the world, if you haven't considered the acoustics of your space then not only will your employees suffer the consequences, but so will your business and inevitably your bottom line.

Did you know?

Once distracted it can take up to 20 minutes for a person to regain full concentration on a complex task! If your workers are often becoming distracted then not only are your employees losing valuable time but they will also be more prone to making mistakes and not performing as they should be!

With 70% of workers reporting that the sound from their co-workers conversations is the most distracting thing in the office, it is important that acoustics are not overlooked when designing a high-performance workplace.

How do you reap the benefits of an open plan office whilst mitigating this sound issue? There are a variety of acoustic solutions available to suit a range of budgets and spaces.

Some Solutions You Could Include In Your Open Plan Office!

  • Designated Areas For Concentration
    Offer your employees a choice of working environments best suited to particular tasks. Include quiet zones that are separate from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the office; spaces that are there purely for concentration and head down space. Make sure these areas are fully equipped to accommodate your employees so that they have everything they need to complete the task in hand.
  • Phone Booths
    There's nothing worse than trying to take a phone call in a busy office, not only can you not hear the person on the other end of the phone but sometimes you can barely hear yourself think! Phone booths are the ideal solution to this, not only will you have the privacy needed for confidential conversations but they are also a quiet space where you can focus purely on the phone call with no other distractions.
  • For an office lacking in space BuzziHood could be a perfect solution. This wall mounted acoustic telephone booth unlike a typical booth takes up much less space whilst still offering the acoustical shelter needed for a successful phone call. The phone hood also encourages its user to stand whilst making the phone call which can only be a good thing in today's very sedentary workplace.
  • Acoustic Furniture
    There are a lot of different acoustic furniture options available from acoustic chairs with winged backs to meeting pods, hubs and even sound absorbing poufs. It is important to consider the effect your furniture has on the acoustics of your workplace; choosing pieces that will help to absorb and weaken the noise of a busy office.

    Meeting hubs can be a great way of softening background noise in order to provide spaces where people can meet with colleagues away from distraction; offering a cocoon of privacy. This is an ideal solution in a busy office where meeting rooms are limited, as well as an office built for a range of tasks, as it can be used as a quiet head down space or an area where colleagues can hold impromptu meetings.
  • Partitions And Space Dividers
    Partitions and space dividers can be used to cordon off certain areas and act as a barrier against unwanted noise when made with acoustic materials. Available in a range of shapes and materials, acoustic partitions can come in the form of desktop screen dividers, room dividers or hanging partitions.
  • Plants
    Research suggests that plants can be a great solution to noise in the office as they can absorb and soften background noise, dampening reverberations that would usually bounce off of flat surfaces. Try introducing Green Living walls to your workplace, not only will this natural element help to improve the wellbeing of your employees but it will also refract noise and stop sound waves travelling. Read our blog about biophilic office design for more information on how plants can be used in office design.
  • Acoustic Panelling
    There is a range of acoustic panelling available in various shapes and sizes. This can be used to inject brighter bursts of colour into your workplace; making a statement feature wall. Panelling can be used on the ceilings and on the walls and comes in a range of different materials, shapes and patterns. The picture to the right shows a range of panelling from acoustic solution company Soundtect Ltd, emphasizing the range of panelling available.

What Should You Look Out For When Choosing Your Acoustic Solutions?

When choosing your acoustic solutions for your open plan office, it is important to make sure that the materials you have chosen have a high noise reduction coefficient (NRC). This rating indicates the percentage of sound energy that hits the surface and does not bounce back; therefore indicating the materials ability to absorb sound. Typically, the average acoustic product will achieve a rating of 50% with some extremely high quality acoustic solutions achieving higher.

Interested In Acoustic Solutions For Your Open Plan Office? Contact Active Today!

These are just some of the numerous acoustic solutions available. For more information on how to design your open plan office with acoustics in mind, please get in touch with a member of our team. Our friendly team will be able to provide you with additional information regarding our office services such as office design and office furnishing.If you would like to contact our team you can do so by calling +44 (0)845 130 9066 or you could fill out our contact form and we'll respond as soon as possible. You could also use our chat feature in the bottom right of your screen!