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Understanding the power of sound

23 April 2018

Acoustics in an office can be a real challenge because of the complex nature and needs of different types of buildings.

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Build for productivity

The modern office has to be flexible enough to accommodate an increasingly diverse range of activities and employee types. According to a recent Leesman Report, The Next 250K; 58% -78% of an activity based employee's time is spent working individually on concentrated work away from their desk, making it important to provide the right environment for employees. As revealed in the same report, "poor adaptation of appropriate behaviour in activity based work places is a significant problem that limits widespread organisational benefits". This highlights the importance of providing the right spaces to encourage and increase productivity.

An important combination

Managing distractive noises around the office, while still offering a flexible, private and engaging working environment, can be a challenge. Many companies with open plan offices have met this challenge by introducing meeting rooms or quite spaces that require both high sound absorption and sound insulation. Sound absorption manages the acoustics in the room, where sound insulation is responsible for preventing sound transmission between a room and a neighbouring space. According to Lloyd's Register Acoustician, Per Trojgaard, the best scenario is to use building materials with both properties. Noise in one room can travel above the partition walls and through the ceiling, disturbing workers in the adjoining office. For example, room-to-room sound transmission can reduce productivity up to 7%.

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It isn’t just the sound insulation capabilities of a product that affect the amount of noise being transferred from an adjacent room; the sound absorbing properties of the product will also have a positive influence. Something which is NOT reflected in the Dn,f,w values.

Different needs - different acoustics

Research has shown that 74.6% of office workers say that noise levels are important in hosting an effective workplace. People exposed to office noise are 15% less productive and they can lose up to 20 minutes a day of concentrated work due to small office distractions.

A ceiling that both absorbs and insulates noise offers an acoustic oasis for employees to escape to for concentrated work. With as many as 78% of activity based employees needing quiet for concentrated work, the need for both sound absorbing and sound insulating materials is an important feature as it can lower distractive influences in the workplace. For example, with a Rockfon dB ceiling in a single person office or meeting room and the adjacent space, distractions instigated by room-to-room sound transmission can be reduced to 0.5%.

Watch our interview with Per Trojgaard, an Acoustician from Lloyd's Register, who explains the importance of sound absorption and sound insulation.

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