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What Factors Affect Acoustics in the Office Environment?

Resource Centre Sound Masking What Factors Affect Acoustics in the Office Environment?
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In the office environment, there are plenty of environmental and human factors that can affect noise levels and how they’re perceived. In this article, we’ll help you identify which factors may contribute to a problematic acoustic environment, and what you can do to resolve them.

Building materials

Building materials play a key part in how much sound is able to leak out from adjoining rooms, or how far it can travel across an open-plan space. Some materials are far better at absorbing sound than others. Carpets, for instance, can help to absorb sound, whereas hard floors are more likely to create an echoing sound. The thickness of your walls or partitions will also play a key role. Thinner, uninsulated walls will leak more sound.

Ceiling designs

Many open-place offices have a lightweight ceiling design. This spans the entire office, with walls that stop at the ceiling tile, leaving an open cavity above. This is known as the plenum. The issue with this design is that the walls don’t provide complete separation, meaning increased noise leakage between rooms.

Instead of completely changing your ceiling design, you can get sound masking systems installed in the plenum. This emits a specially engineered sound that matches the frequency of human speech, lowering the impact of noise in the office. It creates a more comfortable environment without requiring a complete building revamp. Sound masking is ideal for adding into a building at any stage - whether that’s during the developmental stage of designing a new building or including in an office refit, or as an add-on to a working office space.

Personality type

It’s not only how your office is built or constructed that can affect workplace acoustics. How people interpret the common noises found in the office environment can also have a huge impact.

There is plenty of research suggesting that introverts are more likely to become overwhelmed if surrounded by too much noise. This can include overhearing conversations, music, or phones ringing from across the room.

Remark Group spoke to Psychologist, Dr. Nigel Oseland:

“Whether we’re introverted or extroverted will affect how we interpret noise. Extroverts seek stimulation so they’re more tolerant of noises. In fact, it can even help them perform better. Whereas, introverts, they prefer more calming subdued environments. They are not after stimulation, they are after quiet, peaceful areas. So, you can see that when we have different types of people in the same space they have different levels of preferred noise.”

You can watch the full video here:

With so many factors affecting noise in the workplace, it can be difficult to know how to combat acoustic issues. If you want to create a better acoustic environment for your employees, speak to the sound masking experts at Remark Group today. This solution reduces the radius of noise in open-plan offices. It also makes conversations from adjoining rooms unintelligible. Book your sound masking demonstration today to see how we can help enhance your workplace or speak to an expert.