As we transition more toward a knowledge-based economy, it is important to recognise the distraction and dissatisfaction noise brings to office workers. Employees are happier and more productive when they can interact freely with each other in a creative and inspiring environment. With over 90% of an organisation's operating costs linked to employees and their efficiency, it is important to have an environment that provides the freedom and flexibility of concentrated and collaborative work without undermining the principles of the modern office.
The importance of office acoustics
In a survey conducted by the Leesman Review, 76% of office employees list noise as an important workplace consideration yet only 30% are satisfied with the noise levels in their workplace.
It is important to regulate noise levels in open plan and modular offices using sound absorption and sound insulation materials as high levels of noise can lead to stress, absenteeism, loss of concentration and difficulty performing cognitive tasks.
Research has shown that workers in an open office are 15% less productive, they have more difficulty concentrating and can lose up to 20 minutes a day of concentrated work due small office distractions. For example, in the United Kingdom, British employers lose £30 billion a year due to a combination of lost production, recruitment and work absenteeism. Nevertheless, it has been shown that making acoustic adjustments to the office environment can yield positive results.
Flexibility is key
Due to the heavy financial cost of real-estate development, many developers are incorporating a user-centric focus in property development – meaning that they are designing buildings that provide tenants with modularity, which recognises that tenant’s needs are different.
Including this forward thinking approach and building with the total cost in mind asks for durable products that contribute to “agile environments”, spaces that can be reconfigured relatively quickly and easily.
Building for productivity
Reducing the level of distraction and the harmful effects of noise while still creating a flexible and engaging work environment can be a challenge. The use of non-reflecting and sound absorbing material on the ceilings and walls can help reduce reverberation times, reducing distractive influences in the offices.