Open-plan offices are growing in popularity and have increasingly become the norm in many creative industries such as architecture, technology, and design. Although they can encourage creativity and foster collaboration, there are some negative detractors from stylish open office layouts. If done incorrectly, an open office environment can lead to employees being annoyed and distracted by the noise of their co-workers. This is not only problematic for productive working, but noise can actually lead to cardiovascular disease. So how can you use implement a contemporary open office layout to your advantage?
If you are in charge of organizing your company’s office space, you may be wondering how to reduce noise in an open-plan office. You want to encourage team collaboration without distracting other employees from their work. In this article, we will teach you the keys to open-plan office noise reduction.1
Plan the Office Layout Strategically
Organizing the office layout can have a significant impact on how sound travels. Traditional office spaces have different rooms designated for meetings and phone calls. If your office space consists of one large room, you have to get creative. You should aim to create different areas for different types of work focus. Think of your office in terms of zones such as focus, collaboration, innovation, and recharge. These zones can be created by adding different types of furniture such as reclined seating, open tables and importantly office phone booths and pods. The pods can act as zone dividers and contribute to the noise reduction in each space. These zones for activities like meetings and collaboration will create some distance between your workers so those working in a focus zone are less likely to be disturbed by those in a collaboration zone.
Incorporate Soft Materials
While hard, flat surfaces tend to reflect sound and make it bounce around the room, soft surfaces absorb it. If dividers or furniture are part of your delineation of workspace, you can opt for soft materials to contain the noise to each zone—Line the walls with soft materials like acoustic pads or the ceiling with white acoustical ceiling tiles. Companies can invest in drop ceilings and other high-quality soundproofing materials, should their expense budgets and noise levels justify them. Be cautious not to make the entire office too quiet as this will in turn increase the disturbance from noise. Separate phone booths like Loop should be used to give true silence and isolation from the office space as a whole.
Place Some Plants
Incorporating plants into your office décor is another excellent solution for open-plan office noise reduction. Placing plants throughout your office space can decrease noise levels by catching and absorbing sound waves. The bigger the plant, the greater the effect. This is the same reason trees are planted along busy streets. This strategy works outdoors and indoors. While reducing noise, plants can benefit your office space in several other ways. They look great, improve employee well-being, and enhance air quality.
Increase White Noise
Sound masking can be an excellent technique to keep employees focused. Often what is most annoying, and distracting is distinct speech noise. Our brains are trained to act on understandable elements of conversations and will switch off from work automatically to absorb other conversations. Once distracted it will take twenty minutes to regain focus. Ambient sounds or white noise played through a speaker can hide the chit-chat of co-workers. These sounds will not eliminate the distracting chatter, but they can make speech incomprehensible to those who only want to focus.
Dedicate Quiet Spaces
In addition to designating a group collaboration area, a dedicated quiet space can be beneficial. Take a page out of eBay’s book. They created “Think” rooms in their office to “support concentrated individual work and private phone conversations.” These “rooms” offer employees an opportunity to step away from the noise to take care of individual tasks. Better than a built room is a specially designed space such as Loop Cube or Solo which is specially designed to be silent, have ventilation, wired for electronics and movable and relocatable. This will come at a price less expensive and with a higher level of function when compared to constructed enclosures.
Use Noise-Canceling Headphones
If changing the layout and décor of your open-plan office is not doing enough to reduce the noise, consider offering noise-canceling headphones to your employees. This will allow them to eliminate distractions whenever they need to. With the freedom to control distractions by putting on and taking off their headphones as they choose, your employees will feel as though they are working from home when at the office.
Bring in an Office Pod
Give your employees the ability to leave the room without leaving the room by using an office phone booth. We have mentioned the many benefits and value throughout the blog post but consider again why an office pod is an excellent complement to your open office plan. Loop phone booths are the perfect solution for creating a quiet space in an open-plan or hybrid office. Even if the central space of your office is loud and full of conversation, an office pod gives employees the opportunity to step away. Employees will have the silence they need to focus for a while or take a video call. The loop pods also help separate the office into functional zones each with a private area for concentration, collaboration, or video/phone conferencing. The selection of loop pods throughout the office will also help to reduce the overall noise as they act as barriers to activity zones. Loop’s help, even a hectic work environment can become silent.