How to make an office sound quiet

The open-plan office landscapes should support the employees work activities and enhance their well-being. So, start to think acoustically and remove the harmful noisy disturbances: This guide will reveal the acoustic measures you should consider to make an office sound quiet.

Portalbygget Fornebu, Office, Tropic A_edge, Soundstop, 2012

Rockfon® Soundstop ™ at Portalbygget Fornebu Office, Oslo, Norway

Why is noise considered as a dangerous feature in open office spaces?

Nowadays, more and more modern office designs have polished concrete floors and exposed ceilings. The design of workspaces accommodate the different needs and support employees’ work activities, but have you considered that an excessive noise level can harm productivity and the well-being of the employees?

Hard and smooth surfaces look good, but every sound wave is reflected and harm the acoustic environment. And with a higher demand for a social connection with the workplace and colleagues creates a noisy environment.

Research shows that bad acoustic environments with no sound absorption will decrease productivity by 66 %, which means that nearly 1 in every 3 employees are losing one or more hours of productivity.[1]

We take noise seriously as it impacts our health. Around 51 % of office workers complain about concentration problems while working in an open office and around 36 % of the workers have experienced annoyance or frustration. 

Start to think acoustically and remove “conversational distractions”

An acoustic indoor environment should consider the source of the noise, its path, and the receiver who hears it as it can reduce the noise pollution

Modular acoustic ceiling tiles or wall panels are the textile art that can reduce the auditory disturbance of sound reflection. 

Therefore, the four C’s can be useful to look at as it refers to the dynamic within the office.

               Contemplation

               Collaboration

               Communication

               Concentration

But there is no one size fit for all answer as it depends on the type of people who work in the office and that type of work is being done. But it is highly beneficial to create office spaces that sound as beautiful as it looks.

The benefits of acoustic comfort are:

  • 48 % increase in task focus 
  • 51 % decrease in “conversational distractions”
  • 10 % drop in errors during performance
  • 27 % reduction in employees stress level[2]

Despite the challenges and health issues, the employees prefer open office spaces as it reflects their need for social context. To combat these challenges and remain productive, an office with great acoustics can create a healthier and more beautiful indoor environment for the employees to be more creative and more productive.

“We are seeing trends for collaborative spaces, learning and performance spaces that are starting to find synergies. We are creating a variety of areas that support different human functions. When we look at the office, employees want to be on their own, but in a social context, and I think that those are some of the exciting things.”

Tiago Pereira

Architect from Schmidt Hammer Lassen

How to make an office sound quiet

When sound waves hit a hard surface like walls, floors and windows, the audible energy wave will be reflected into the room as the materials don’t absorb the noise. This causes the overall noise level to rise in the room.  Therefore, can the right acoustic materials provide better sound and a healthier indoor environment:

Step 1: The office design and the occupants

The first step in creating an office that sounds quiet is to figure out the different needs of the office workers. How do they like to work, what design solution will benefit their work performance and do they want a collaborative approach in the office?

Once you know what measures to include in the interior design, you can take the next step and look at the sound solutions.

Step 2: What sound solution fit your layout the best?

The quality of sound absorption available in the different rooms is determined by the layout of the space and what materials are being selected. In our acoustic tiles and panels, the core material is stone wool as it has by nature a high sound-absorption.

If you choose the right acoustic products, you can create flexible, private, and engaging environments that combine the benefits of great sound insulation and superior sound absorption

Step 3: Balance your office design with great acoustics  

The acoustic comfort should provide a perfect harmony between employee well-being and privacy while the environment continue to be collaborative and dynamic.

Proper sound absorption
A proper sound absorption controls the ambient sound pressure level in a room. And it will create comfortable environments where people can concentrate and work productively without noise-induced irritation or stress. It also has other benefits as it increases the speech intelligibility making presentation and conversation easier to understand.

Low reverberation time
Creating an acoustic environment also reduce reverberation time and echoes. With sound-absorption materials, it will balance the sound level and create a dynamic environment with a focus on employee well-being and privacy. 

Proper sound insulation
To prevent that sound from one activity is transmitted and disturbing the next room, you should consider proper sound insulation. Soundproofing relates to the overall ability of a building element to reduce the level of distractions and the harmful effects of noise between a room and a neighbouring space.

Create flexible, private, and engaging environments with our acoustic product range with great sound insulation and superior sound absorption.  

Don’t suffer in silence – we have a solution

You can choose either our dB product range or an acoustic product with lower sound insulation in combination with a stop barrier in achieving a higher room to room insulation.  

Monolithic ceilings:

Rockfon® Mono® Acoustic | Seamless acoustic ceiling solution

  • A perfect acoustic solution for ceiling and walls with the innovative, monolithic surface that delivers outstanding comfort, hygiene and fire protection

Design white islands:

Rockfon Eclipse® | Frameless acoustic ceiling island

  • An aesthetically pleasing frameless acoustic ceiling island. It offers excellent sound absorption and has a smooth, deep-matt super white surface providing high light reflection.

Modular ceilings:

Rockfon Blanka® | Deep matt, super white acoustic ceiling tile

  • Acoustic ceiling tiles with a smooth, deep matt and super white surface providing high light reflection that contributes to energy savings and creates bright and comfortable indoor environments.
    Rockfon Blanka® is available in many different variations so you can choose what fits your needs and office requirements.

Design decoration:

Rockfon® Colored Commercial Ceiling Tiles & Panels

  • A versatile acoustic ceiling and wall solution to inspire and enhance the interior design as it is available in 34 exclusive colours.

Baffles:

Rockfon® Universal™ Baffle | Creative acoustic solution

  • A creative and innovative acoustic solution with 31 inspiration colours from the Rockfon Color-all® range. It will complement any plenum design with its bold and long-lasting colours.

Our Rockfon dB range of high absorbent acoustic tiles has a stone wool core with a high-performance membrane which reduces the transmission of noise from room to room as well as direct insulation.
With is smooth, deep matt and super white surface, it provides a significant increase in sound absorption and sound insulation so you don’t need to comprise on concentration and privacy in your office design.

Rockfon® Soundstop™ | Acoustic barrier that blocks noise

  • Rockfon® Soundstop ™ is an acoustic barrier that reduces noise transfer in ceiling and floor plenums, and it is ideally combined with our dB range.  
Step 4: The aesthetic touch

The office design should reflect the brand, and therefore, it should be beautiful and comforting. Architects and designers aim to create a more interactive and dynamic workspace, and that’s what the right ceiling design can inspire to and transforming the artistic expression.

Find the right balance between style, comfort and top-grade solutions to produce elegant spaces that inspire the employees.

Article illustration, Rockfon, blog post, insight, workplace, acoustics, office

An acoustic design with a unique personality has other advantages

Every building has its unique personality and a unique set of needs to consider. The office buildings can be different in nature and functionality, presenting different challenges that create crucial demands on the building materials. And the acoustic ceiling design is no different. Now you have the acoustic comfort in place, but let’s see on the other advantages you will achieve:

Durability:

If a product is durable, it can endure continued use over a long period. Durability is a crucial factor when selecting materials as it will reflect on the level of maintenance. A durable construction product consumes fewer resources, creates less waste and its manufacturing impact is spread over long periods. Durability supports eco-efficiency and secures progress towards sustainable consumption and production.

Modularity is key:

Now we have considered how to reduce the level of distraction and creating flexible, private and engaging workspaces. But how flexible can it be in the office design? Modularity refers to the degree to which the ceiling system can be recombined with the benefit of flexibility. When thinking about an acoustic ceiling solution, it’s crucial to consider the flexibility with modular ceilings or moveable partition walls to create acoustic comfort.

A modular ceiling gives absolute control of the noise and safety of the spaces, and ensure a smoother integration of services and fittings. Our acoustic solutions integrate harmoniously with the other building materials for a holistic design as we offer a variety of colours, formats, edges to address different artistic designs.

The quality of light:

Light is an essential part of our life, and the light determines how we experience a space. But it’s also extremely important for our well-being. For the best quality of light, the offices should be illuminated by as much natural sunlight as possible. The natural light should be spread equally through the room to minimize the usage of electricity and artificial. It’s an important aspect as office workers prefer to be near windows as it provides good natural daylight

Download our White Paper: Use light reflection to boost wellbeing and cut energy costs (rockfon.co.uk)

What benefits will you get out of an acoustic investment?

Building materials need to meet the long-term needs of users without expensive upkeeping due to maintenance or repair.
Demands for functionality, reliability, and durability are key performances of a desirable acoustic product.

With an investment in acoustic ceiling solutions, it’s an investment in the employees. 

Improved satisfaction

  • 79 % of building owners witnessed an improvement in employee satisfaction and engagement.[3]

Higher value

  • 62 % of building owners saw a positive impact on the building’s value, meaning that the building’s sustainable features can potentially affect the resale rate.[4]

Improved productivity

  • 75 % of building owners witnessed an improvement in indoor lightning conditions after installing acoustic ceilings.[5]

 

Sounds Beautiful

[1] https://cdw-prod.adobecqms.net/content/dam/cdw/on-domain-cdw/brands/poly/poly-
perils-ebook.pdf

[2] Sykes, David; M., PhD, ”Productivity: How Acoustics Affect Workers’ Performance in Offices and Open Areas. https://mpsllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Productivity.pdf

[3]Dodge Data & Analytics, “Smart Market Report”, 2016 Pg. 06

[4] Dodge Data & Analytics, “Smart Market Report”, 2016 Pg. 07

[5] Dodge Data & Analytics, “Smart Market Report”, 2016 Pg. 06