Many of us spend the majority of our time indoors, with a large part of that time at our places of work. Thanks to the green building movement and benchmark systems like USGBC’s LEED rating system, our workplaces have achieved higher indoor air quality than over a decade ago. In more recent years, another movement has sprung up — weaving in biophilic design elements to create comfortable, productive environments. Designers are taking a holistic approach to indoor environmental quality. That is, designing in terms of air quality, light level, and acoustical comforts.
Most of us are not able to change the core and shell of a building or the building acoustics. However, as workplace solutions experts and office furniture purveyors, we can offer healthy solutions to help with office design, room acoustics, and lighting. Ultimately, that will aid in better work performance, increased concentration, and improved health and wellbeing.
Below are some design tips to keep the noise pollution down while letting the light in.
1. Wall PartitionsFree-standing room providers, pony walls and workplace partitions, made with sound absorbent materials are a great noise deflector. Plus, they can be easily reconfigured to meet the changing demands of an office. For floor-to-ceiling walls, opt for glass rather than opaque ones to help filter light throughout. And for workstations, try low panel screens covered in a heavy duty fabric.
2. Create vignettes
As companies adopt agile office concepts and blend open plan designs with more creative areas, there is ample opportunity to create workplace moments with sound absorbing materials. Try carpet tile for huddle rooms, throw rugs for lounge areas, and acoustic ceiling panels for open areas. These practical products serve double duty, adding aesthetic variety while absorbing unwanted sound. And if some of these areas are hard to naturally illuminate, try bright, reflective materials, to help bounce light.
3. Pod-like seating
Don’t underestimate the power of a high-back chair! Together with pods and canopied benching, these innovative seating solutions offer a quiet break in a bustling office. Constructed with padding and quality fabric, they ward off noise pollution, blocking unwanted sound waves, including sounds generated by HVAC, speech, and ring tones.
4. Acoustic-Friendly Furniture.
Yes! There is such a thing. Earlier this summer, we attended a CEU at the Haworth Showroom in San Francisco, led by Daniel Verlooven, BuzziSpace’s Global Acoustical Ambassador. If you’re not familiar with BuzziSpace, they design high-end contract acoustic products. (They even offer designers a noise meter app to help visual space acoustics). According to Daniel, ”employees can be 66% less productive when exposed to one conversation.” To help manage workplace acoustics, they offer a variety of products including: acoustic panels, ancillary seating, and suspended lighting products that address both lighting and acoustic needs.
We all want good air, light and sound in our offices. It may be impossible to abolish unwanted noise, but we can do our small part to help design spaces with optimal noise and light levels. In sum, when designing your space, fold in furniture pieces, partition walls, fixtures and work systems made from soft, absorbent materials, to mitigate noise transfer.