What are Office Acoustics and Why are They Important?

Acoustics is a way to describe how sound behaves within a space. Office acoustics are simply the way sound behaves in an office environment with their abundance of small background noises and numerous hard surfaces for sound to bounce off. 

Why are office acoustics relevant?

Office acoustics don’t come up in conversation very often - so are they really important? Whilst it’s often overlooked, office acoustics can have a big impact on day-to-day office life. Whether this impact is positive or negative is dependent on many variables within the office – such as size, furnishings, and layout. Bad office acoustics can increase noise levels and create an unsuitable working environment. On the flip side, good office acoustics can accommodate a productive and peaceful ambience – ideal for allowing employees to thrive. 

What Causes Bad Office Acoustics?

Lack of Soft Furnishings

causes of bad office acoustics

One of the biggest culprits for bad acoustics is a lot of hard surfaces and not a lot of soft furnishings. Soft furniture can help to reduce noise levels by absorbing some of the noise, whereas hard surfaces (which offices are often full of) reflect sound.

Multiple Sources of Noise

Lots of noise coming from different areas of a room will of course increase noise levels. Unfortunately, in an office setting there’s usually noise coming from all directions and with an abundance of hard surfaces, there’s nothing to reduce the excess sounds.

Open Spaces

bad office acoustics cause by open space

Open plan offices are often the worst for bad acoustics. There’s not a lot to stop sound from circling the room and building up, creating an uncomfortable amount of noise. There are no walls to break up the space, letting sound roam freely to wreak havoc.

Effects of Bad Office Acoustics     

Bad office acoustics can have plenty of negative effects. If your office is facing acoustical issues, you will probably have noticed a few of the effects that can occur.

High Noise Levels

Bad room acoustics almost always leads to an increase in noise levels. In an office, where there isn’t a lot to absorb excess noise and there are plenty of noise sources, the sounds quickly build up.

Increased Reverberation

Reverberation is a term that gets thrown around in acoustics quite a lot. In simple terms, reverberation or ‘reverb’ is the persistence of sound even after the source of the sound has stopped. A lot of reverb can cause speech clarity and sound quality to be massively reduced – creating communication difficulties within the office.  

Reduced Productivity

bad office acoustics resulting in reduced productivity

The bad acoustics that lead to high noise levels and inefficient communication can quickly create an unproductive working environment. The noise reduces people’s ability to concentrate and focus on tasks – leading to missed deadlines and people falling behind on their work. This inability to work effectively often results in employees becoming increasingly stressed.

Are Open Plan Offices Worse for Acoustics?

In short, yes. Open plan offices, if not acoustically treated, are usually much worse in terms of acoustic environment. Open offices collate more noise and are less able to absorb that sound.

How to Improve Office Acoustics 

Once you’ve established that your office has bad acoustics, it’s time to think about ways you can manage your office acoustics to reduce the negative effects they have on employees and the overall business.  

Increase Absorbent Materials                                                                                                                                      

Acoustic Panels       

office acoustic solutions - acoustic panels    

There are plenty of acoustic solutions for offices that are ideal for creating a better, more productive environment – one of which is acoustic panels. A versatile option, acoustic panels can acoustically treat a space without harming the interior design. As it’s such a popular solution, there are plenty of design options out there that will blend in perfectly with your already established interior design. Along with design, they’re excellent at reducing reverb and creating a clearer, higher quality sound environment. Most acoustic panels are easy to install too!

Acoustic Rafts

office acoustic solutions - acoustic rafts

If you haven’t got much wall or floor space and don’t want to ‘clutter’ up your office, acoustic rafts are a great alternative. Rafts are essentially suspended acoustic panels that help reduce noise levels by absorbing sound from above. They come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colours to match your office’s interior.                                        

Acoustic Screens & Desk Dividers     

office acoustic solutions - acoustic screens

Acoustic screens are a fantastic way to reduce noise levels, especially in open plan offices. Acoustic screens and dividers reduce sound from transferring across the entirety of the room, resulting in less noise and a more peaceful environment.  

Keep Meetings Separate

office acoustic solutions - meeting pods

Having meetings in the main office can cause a lot of disruption, both to the other workers and to the meeting itself. Acoustic meeting pods are the perfect way ensure meetings are non-disruptive and private, without having to build permanent meeting rooms. Acoustic pods are also another option. These are great for allowing one person to take calls privately and without distracting others.

Ready to Kit Out Your Office?

If you’ve made it this far you should have all the basic information regarding office acoustics! You should now know why office acoustics are important, how acoustics are affected in the office and what you can do to improve your office’s acoustics.

If you want an extra helping hand acoustically treating your office, we’re always here to help. As experts in all things acoustic, we can recommend the best products for your individual needs to achieve the optimum acoustic environment.