The Complex Nature of Office Design
Office design is probably not one of the most exciting subjects you will stumble upon today. Yet for hundreds of millions of workers, the office is where they will spend a large partition of their day and a substantial slice of their lives. The world that we now live in revolves around computers. That results in monolithic offices where workers are corralled in to make the most effective use of the space. A few decades ago, you could be forgiven for mistaking an office for a cattle market.
But rather than viewing employees as cogs forming part of a machine, companies and organisations are waking up to the fact that they’re a bit more complex than that. Instead of squeezing as many people as possible into generic, carbon-copy cubicles – they are realising that there are better ways to get people to work. Acoustic wall panels and acoustic technology are a few key advancements being quietly integrated to make the office more tolerable.
What is the Purpose of Acoustic Wall Panels?
Over the past 10 years, there has been a shift away from cubicle offices, with open plan taking their place. These open layouts are supposed to encourage collaboration and integration between different teams of a business. However, one of the major drawbacks on this kind of design is the noise levels that they create. When you have multiple teams working together at once, conversations, phones ringing and pens clicking all come together to create a cacophony of noise.
This is where Acoustic Wall Panels come in. They’re commonly forgotten in a lot of open work areas, although they’re a key addition for many office designers. The reason being is they can integrate seamlessly in the background. They work perpetually to reduce those noise levels and you would never notice. Similarly, in environments that do not take acoustics into consideration, the focus is often on the noise, rather than how it can be addressed.
Usually, acoustic wall panels come in a couple of forms. Firstly, there are fabric wall panels, which can cover a complete wall or just sections of it. These are available in a variety of colours so they can even boost the aesthetic of the space. Then there are art acoustic wall panels. These take on the guise of artwork while subtly improving the acoustic performance of the space.
What Exactly Do Acoustic Wall Panels Do?
One of the reasons why acoustic wall panels are often forgotten is because they appear just as a simple panel. But integrated inside is acoustic foam – which you would commonly find in recording studios and auditoriums. For context, the reason that open offices often become so noisy is due to the number of hard surfaces. White-washed walls and wooden floors look great in the home, but they are a nightmare when creating a productive environment.
This is because the hard surfaces reflect sound waves. So even if a co-worked is 200 metres down at the other end of the office, the presence of hard surfaces all around means that any noise they make still travels all the way to the other end. This follows the same reason why if you shout into a cave, you can hear your voice echo as there are only hard surfaces to reflect the sound.
In the context of the office, this leads to growing levels of frustration. The environment might look nice, but constantly being surrounded by loud voices, desk tapping and keyboards clacking is hardly a place to concentrate and get work done. This is why many modern offices use a carpet to help soak up some of those erratic sound waves. The acoustic wall panels are even more effective at reducing reverberation levels and keeping conversations reserved for their separate areas. There are even options for ceiling-hanging acoustic panels to keep the office open while reducing the number of audible distractions.
How Can Acoustic Wall Panels Benefit You?
Whether you are a business owner or an office worker, the benefits of acoustic wall panels often go unseen. Every environment is completely different, so whether acoustic wall panels are necessary is completely subjective. This is dependent on the number of people in the area, the existing environment and the nature of work. However, if you find yourself or your office being constantly distracted, there is a good chance that acoustic wall panels can help.
While persistent noises are unlikely to draw our attention away, it is a sudden change in noise levels which distracts us. So, if a discussion becomes quite lively or a particularly noisy co-worker picks up the phone, this will inevitably break your focus and ultimately reduce your productivity levels. This is one of the reasons why working from home has become increasingly popular in recent years as it enables staff to work in peace and silence and at their own pace.
In an open office, this is rarely the case due to the dynamic nature of most businesses. If you are looking to get more from yourself or from your employees, then taking disruptions into consideration is crucial. Tools such as headphones have been suggested before, but this ultimately defeats the purpose of open plan areas if moderation is not taken into consideration.
You only need to look at the now famous offices of modern businesses such as Google or Facebook. While your eyes are drawn to the exciting colours, it is easy to overlook the thinking going into the design. The flexibility of these spaces and consideration for an individual’s needs is why their employees can be incredibly productive. While many don’t have the luxury of a huge office, acoustic wall panels can be vital for a productive workplace.
Go Displays are designers and manufacturers of a variety of Acoustic Wall Panels. They tailor solutions based on the environment you have available. If you would like to find out more about how they can help your office design, please call 01733 232000 or send an e-mail to [email protected].