How does noise affect work performance? What can be done about it? These two questions formed the basis of an insightful talk held at our London showroom earlier this year.
In collaboration with online furniture retailer Wellworking, Sounds Too Good To Miss was a panel discussion examining how workplace acoustics influences wellbeing and productivity.
Chaired by Mark Eltringham of Insight Publishing, the panel featured Michelle Wilkie, Director of Architecture firm TP Bennett, Dr. Nigel Oseland from Workplace Unlimited, Offecct Designer Joachim Schubert, and Lee Jones from Wellworking.
The talk kicked off with some interesting thoughts on the evolutionary and environmental factors of noise, with Dr Nigel Oseland and Joachim Schubert urging organisations to take this into consideration.
Nigel: “We don’t like complete silence because if you think about it in the natural world, silence is danger… You need a little bit of background noise similar to that level you might find in the natural environment.”
Continuing this thread, Joachim explained how the human ability to hear sound evolved outdoors, and that we should try to recreate an outdoor open sky effect inside, to better suit our ears. This can be done, he suggested, through the use of acoustic panel and roof ideas.
Another interesting aspect covered was the link between personality types and the influence of noise, suggesting there is not a universal solution that works for everyone. Extroverts are more likely to seek noisy lively atmospheres, which can help stimulate creativity and happiness, whereas introverts tend to thrive in the opposite conditions, working best in quiet and controlled environments.
Michelle Wilkie commented; “I think we need to be mindful there is nothing worse than walking into a library space when you want it to fell collaborative and buzzy… There’s almost a really fine line in what is too noisy in order to be able to concentrate, but then not too quiet so that it still enables collaboration.”
One solution is creating a balanced workspace, providing a range of work for different tasks and different types of people. Quite focused space alongside collaborative open plan areas, as well as meeting rooms, solo work booths and social zones for break periods and informal interactions.
Michelle continued by highlighting a recent successful project that involved designing a range of work areas for different tasks, equipped with modern acoustic wall panels and sound absorption panels enabling more effective video conferencing without background interference.
The project also involved an area known as the hideaway, a tech free, quiet zone, where acoustic panels were seamlessly built into the ceiling, enhancing the environment and giving employees a place to escape from the buzz of the main office.
Joachim, who has worked on a range of acoustic panel designs for Offecct, explained the 4-stage process of acoustics; reducing noise, blocking it, absorbing it and then dispersing it. Using the recent Offecct Soundstick as an example, he also highlighted the excellent environmental credentials behind this and many of Offecct’s products.
A thoroughly interesting debate, we want to thank everyone who took part, and to everyone who joined us in the audience. You can watch a short summary video of the conversation below, filmed by Wellworking.