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How to Properly Soundproof Your Office

How to Properly Soundproof Your Office

Posted In // Design Tips

Who would want a performance review in earshot of colleagues? And what about the clients? Do they want their conversations overheard? Now factor in the sounds of doing business that often aren’t silent – such as telephones, printers and brainstorming.

Light, bright, open, airy workspaces are the trend – and linked to many productivity positives. But there’s also noise being made about the negative impact of a lack of peace and quiet.

Is silence golden?

Folks learned early on that setting up camp near a noisy, racing stream would interfere with the ability to hear a potential predator. So they sought out the quiet.

According to the Harvard Business Review, a 2013 University of Sydney study ranked a lack of sound privacy as the biggest drain on morale. It also referenced a 2014 study by Steelcase and Ipsos that found noise distractions took a big chunk out of the workday – as much as 86 minutes per worker.

Fast Company magazine referenced an analysis of 242 studies on how noise affects performance. It concluded that cognitive tasks - working with numbers, processing text and reading - were most affected by one of the most common sounds in the office. That sound is intermittent speech that an employee is not involved in – where a few words or sentences are punctuated with pauses.

A lab in Glasgow researched how personalities played into the sound problem. Extroverts and those with good working memories had higher tolerances for noise distractions.

Still, as concluded by Fast Company with information adapted from “Two Awesome Hours: Science-Based Strategies to Harness your Best Time and Get Your Most Important Work Done” by Josh Davis, Ph.D. quiet is almost always the best bet.

How to soundproof your office without sacrificing aesthetics

The secret is glass walls.

Glass allows light to flow and gives the space an air of openness, with a capability of blocking out sound. According to Tagwall:
  • Glass can have high Sound Transmission Class or STC ratings. An STC rating of 1 indicates a material is providing virtually zero soundproofing, while a 60 is the ranking of a completely soundproof product. No office requires materials rated 60; average ratings will suffice. Particle boards are hardly effective in soundproofing
  • Double-glazed glass walls are suggested where there is a need for total privacy:
    • Conference rooms
    • Managerial staff offices
  • Gas space between the double-glazed glass affects soundproofing. The larger the space, the higher the soundproofing because trapped air isn’t a good sound conductor.

Glass walls are just the start of soundproofing

If installing glass walls isn't possible, Harvard Business Review and Tagwall also suggest to provide dedicated quiet spaces for employees to use when an important project demands total concentration, and designate loud spaces for interaction, away from desks, and quieter area.

You can also reduce noise by spacing and arranging furniture and hardware. When objects occupy a bigger area sound vibrations are minimized. Bringing in sound-absorbing materials like carpets on the floor and acoustical tiles on the ceiling, can help absorb sounds. Even plants help.

With so many options, let Beaux-Arts Group help create the sounds of silence that your business needs.
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