We all know that a noisy office can have an adverse effect on people’s ability to concentrate and be effective in their work – but have you thought that too little noise in the office can also reduce productivity?
Today’s offices with their sophisticated external glazing and quiet air conditioning can reduce background noise levels that previously had a neutralising or masking effect. Too much noise is disruptive and stress inducing; too little noise and privacy and confidentiality may be compromised. Either way, poor acoustics can be extremely debilitating and costly for a business.
Problems arising from inadequate noise management, rarely obvious when moving into a building or newly refurbished space, tend to emerge only later down the line when they begin to affect your business. More than 70% of the requests for advice received by CBS are for the correction of existing issues, rather than for advice at the planning stage.
Most of these problems occur in open plan offices which remove the natural barriers that absorb noise and prevent it travelling around. The hard surface materials of modern architecture don’t help. Metal ceilings, concrete, glass and tile floors have poor acoustic absorption properties, leading to bounce-back effects – while large open spaces, for instance reception or atrium areas, make it hard to understand speech.
But there are solutions. Overcoming noise problems is rarely about a single issue – rather it is about identifying the sources of noise in your offices and implementing a combination of measures to achieve balance and address noise spikes. These measures needn’t be expensive or disruptive to implement, and can have dramatic effects on productivity.
My next blog will look at the different approaches to noise control and outline a range of solutions. Do post a comment if you have any particular problems we could look at.