Shhh... Keeping the Noise down in an Office Fitout.

Open Plan Offices

They're great for creating energy and involvement, but sometimes not so great for keeping sound down to a comfortable working level.

Trying to tune out when laughter and speech are invading your space.....not easy.  Workers can become frustrated and unfocused.
Worse still, productivity drops when noise isn’t controlled.
Memory retention suffers. Everyone loses.

Now that doesn’t mean that a boss should keep office employees under the thumb in absolute silence, absolutely not!
That’s almost as bad as having too much noise.
What is does mean is that being able to mask people’s conversations or animated discussions to a certain level of decibels is important.
About 50 or 60 decibels, in fact.
When it comes to masking or minimising sound in open areas, office layout and use of materials is very important.

Good office layout needs to consider noise entering from 2 angles:

Your fitout specialist will look at:
Sounds coming in from the outside
Sound transferring within the office space.

These may be things like:
• Traffic noise coming in through windows and external walls
• Noise coming from on the roof and being transferred through the ceiling: eg heavy rain.
• Noise from air conditioning units and plant rooms
• Noise created by other workers: eg  speech, laughter

So, there are 3 main ways to deal with noise:
Absorb it
Block it
Mask it

When areas within an office are intended to be highly private, the easiest and most cost effective way is to install an acoustic ceiling to achieve high sound absorption.
There are many types of materials which absorb sound.
Perforated gyprock is a cost effective answer. New decorative panels and ceiling tiles have replaced the monotonous ceilings of the past.
Ask your fitout team about the new choices.

Low frequency noise can be absorbed in a simple way in terms of walls too.
Partitions made from special types of gyprock eg:  Soundchek or Fyrchek are simple and cost effective materials.
To go one step further, for a more creative office fitout solution, why not attach colourful acoustic noticeboards, acoustic whiteboards or decorative acoustic artwork to wall partitioning?
New colour and pattern choices are so available right now!

Office layout often demands visibility. That means often using glass. No problems any more with sound transference. Block it!
Go with acoustic glass.
Don't think double glazed, but full perimeter acoustic glass partitioning with special seals which stop sound leaking.
Ask your fitout team.
Great for meeting rooms and boardrooms.

Masking sound can be effective in certain office areas where it isn’t absorbed or blocked by ceiling or wall panels in a commercial fitout.
It could be that low frequency sounds coming from air conditioning units need to be addressed, so why not run artificial sound  evenly through an office space to mask the offensive noise?
Speakers located in the ceiling providing a sound a few decibels higher than the problem noise are a good way of treating the issue.
A simple and fairly pleasant solution.

So keeping with an open office plan is still a good move. Dealing with the sound issues is no longer a drama. New materials, new finishes are the answer.


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