workplace

Understanding acoustic design elements in the office

photo source: Snowsound

photo source: Snowsound

Cell phone conversations, co-workers talking too loud, typing keyboards…it can all be VERY distracting. Especially when in an office setting. With the Open Plan being the new norm of an office space plan, it may seem like things will never quiet down. Luckily, there are sound absorbing resources to alleviate some of those distracting noises.

What is an acoustic space? An acoustic space refers to an acoustic environment in which sound is heard by an observer. Not only is proper acoustical design vital in the importance of the functionality of a space, but it can directly effect tasks that take place in those spaces. It is an elemental area of design work and one that can also enhance the visual appeal of a scheme as well as the acoustic comfort. There are two ways to solve an acoustic problem in a space: sound masking and sound absorption.

photo source: Lencore

photo source: Lencore

Sound Masking

Sound masking systems use a soft unnoticeable background sound through a speaker. It muffles any sounds or distractions within a setting. Users can control this sound masking setting by depending on the amount of distracting noise. The disturbing noise can be measured by sound level sensors that are installed in the ceiling. Therefore, the sound masking level can be adjusted in real-time. For further information on how sound masking works, check out this short video by Lencore! Lencore Sound Masking



Sound Absorption

Sound absorption refers to wave lengths being soaked up by soft surfaces. Sound absorption absorbs unwanted noise within a room. Essentially, it converts the sound wave energy into a small amount of heat that reduces the amount of sound throughout the room. There are many different sound absorption products including acoustic panels, tiles, clouds, and ceiling baffles. Check out this short video about Snowsound’s incredible sound absorbing technology! Snowsound Acoustic Panel Demo

photo source: Snowsound

photo source: Snowsound

Choosing the right sound solution for your space will depend on whether you are looking to mask sound or absorb sound. It is possible to use both sound masking and sound absorption in a space. For example, sound masking or ‘white noise’ can be used in an open office plan to muffle colleague conversations and sound absorption solutions can be used in conference rooms to absorb meeting discussions. You will find that most modern offices use a combination of these solutions to reach an acoustically pleasing office setting.


Interested in hearing more about our sound solutions? Contact us for a quote and let us help you quiet your noisy office!



Sources:

https://www.teacherboards.co.uk/community/the-sound-of-success-how-acoustics-play-role-in-modern-office-designs/

https://www.acousticbulletin.com/how-architects-explain-acoustics

https://www.audimute.com/blog/sound-absorption-vs-soundproofing

https://speechprivacysystems.com/how-sound-masking-works/

https://www.snowsoundusa.com/why-snowsound/

Workplace Trends for 2019 | Kimball

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

While some of the trends that experts are predicting for 2019 are a continuation of what some workplaces were already doing in 2018, there are still a number of new ones. Some that might even raise a few eyebrows.

Here’s a quick preview of the trends that experts believe will be popular for workplace design in 2019.

Different work settings for different tasks.
Okay, technically, designating different areas of the office space for employees to work alone, in collaboration with others, or without distractions, isn’t new. But utilizing furniture options that can be easily rearranged to an employee or team’s liking does take the concept further. The furniture buzzwords moving forward are “minimal restrictions”.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

Multifunctional rooms.
An adaptation of the designated space for 2019 will be to create small, multifunctional rooms that can be rearranged depending on the function. These rooms can be used for informal meetings, quiet spaces, interviews, or to relax with a cup of coffee. Versatility is the key — that includes the furnishings.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

Space that contributes to employee well-being.
Employee health and psychological well-being will play a bigger role in office design for 2019. Research shows that people who experience higher levels of well-being are more resistant to colds, have a quicker recovery time from illness, a greater life expectancy, feel less pain, are more creative, and are better at problem solving. Literally, there’s no downside for a company to create a space that makes people feel good about working there.

Blurring the lines between the workplace and the comforts of home will also continue in 2019. For example, relaxation spaces will be a big plus to employees. Comfy seating, mini fridges stocked with cold beverages, and coffee machines will be a must.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

Experience-driven spaces.
Another trend that experts expect to see among companies other than the high-tech and startups is something called experience-driven spaces. These spaces could include such features as massage therapy, yoga studios, meditation areas, virtual reality gaming spaces, espresso bars, and even rock-climbing walls or music stages.

The melding of furniture design and technology.
The introduction of laptops, cloud, and mobile phone technology into the workplace has increased the demand for more creatively thought out workstations. In 2019 expect to see more desks and workspaces with built-in technology like air-charging ports for mobile devices, under-desk mounted CPU holders, tabletop-embedded “personal assistant” touchscreens, electronic cable management systems, even Bluetooth-enabled standing desk controllers connected to mobile apps.

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

Abstract patterns.
Plain walls are so 2018. Abstract patterns and geometric shapes will be the thing for 2019. In the halls, lobbies, and conference rooms, you'll start to see the use of bold shapes, colors, and patterns accenting the walls. Handcrafted, artisanal, and earth-based products will also be making their way into the office and wood furniture will be moving towards darker, more elegant tones.

The Second Nature trend.
The use of plants and biophilic design in office space will continue to grow. (Sorry, for the pun.) Living green walls, plants, trees, and flowers will be used more and more to bring the outside in. This once trendy fashion statement is now considered by many companies to be a “must have’ in 2019 workspace design.

Here are some other characteristics of this Second Nature trend:
• WELL certification
• Fitwell certification
• LEED certification
• Natural materials - biomorphic forms and patterns such as wood and stone
• Natural lighting
• Thermal comfort and high-quality ventilation
• Visual connections with nature

photo source: Kimball

photo source: Kimball

So, if you’re designing a new space or giving your old space a makeover for 2019, make sure you keep these new trends in mind. If you need furniture to fill that space, we know a great place where you can look.