In today’s work environment, remote and hybrid arrangements have become the norm. Consequently, most employees connect with each other and clients on video calls. Excessive background noise can cause significant distractions for participants, but there are plenty of AV solutions available to enhance room acoustics and minimize distracting sounds.
Furthermore, organizations must consider the importance of creating an inclusive work environment, such as optimizing spaces for neurodivergent workers that may be susceptible to sensory overload. If you want to improve your workplace and achieve the best room acoustics possible, read on.
The Importance of Room Acoustics in the Workplace
Everyone responds to extraneous noises differently. For instance, some people enjoy playing music while they work, while others find it challenging to focus in the presence of background noise. The same is true when considering room acoustics. A well-designed office can minimize distractions and the effect of excessive noise to ensure that all your employees can work in a space that is conducive to success.
Studies from TechRadar found that a single nearby conversation in the workplace can reduce a worker’s productivity by 66% in the moment. Fortunately, thoughtful room acoustics can enhance workflow by reducing distractions.
The modern office environment typically features an open floor plan. While there are benefits to this design, organizations must balance collaborative spaces with private work areas like work pods, huddle rooms, and wellness rooms. This balance is referred to as “broken plan design.” A broken plan design ensures that workers can maximize both collaboration and individual productivity by leveraging appropriate room acoustics.
5 Tips to Improve Room Acoustics in Your Office
Whether your employees work in the office full-time or on a hybrid schedule, high-quality room acoustics are essential to a productive office environment. Once you have established the proper AV setup for your organization’s needs, consider working with AV integrators to implement these sound optimization strategies.
1. Identify Acoustic Problem Areas
Speakers will find it easier to understand one another in rooms that have “dry” acoustics. If a room has dry acoustics, it means that the room is arranged to minimize reverberation. Hard surfaces such as glass walls and whiteboards can reduce the quality of the acoustics in your office. Additionally, positioning a meeting room near high-traffic areas will negatively impact sound quality.
If employees are experiencing distractions from ambient noise or many hard, echoing surfaces in your meeting rooms, it may be beneficial to consult AV integrators about implementing a solution to improve room acoustics.
2. Incorporate Sound Masking Technology
Sound masking technology helps muffle ambient noise by layering another quiet sound on top. While this may seem counterintuitive, sound masking options can improve your meeting room acoustics by hiding distracting sounds, such as the footsteps of other employees walking by in a hallway outside.
One of the most popular forms of sound masking is white noise. Background noise created by a white noise machine or a small, elegant water feature can reduce the impact of ambient noise while enhancing meeting room acoustics.
Sound masking technology is especially important for areas in which confidential conversations occur. Consider utilizing these technologies in board rooms to ensure complete privacy.
3. Consider Sound Absorption Technology
While sound masking technologies cover up noise, sound absorption products improve room acoustics by preventing sound from echoing and reverberating within the space. They can also keep sounds from traveling between rooms, for lessened distractions and better meeting privacy.
If you’re interested in implementing sound absorption technology, AV integration specialists may recommend the following:
- Acoustical ceiling tile. Acoustical ceiling tile is one of the most widely used sound absorption solutions. However, conference rooms with drop ceilings may require mineral board tiles for the same effect.
- Hanging baffles. Acoustic hanging baffles are ideal for high ceilings for noise reduction and enhanced aesthetics.
- Acoustic partitions. Partitions are similar to baffles, but they are installed on the floor rather than on the ceiling. Acoustic partitions are lightweight and easy to transport to other areas of the building.
- Soundproof drywall. Consider investing in soundproof drywall. Its increased mass density helps confine noise to a specific area.
- Soundproof curtains. Soundproof curtains are composed of mass-loaded vinyl capable of blocking and containing extraneous sound. These are ideal for meeting rooms with large windows.
Companies often utilize sound absorption technologies in conjunction with sound masking equipment for a well-rounded AV setup.
4. Establish Dedicated Work Zones
A simple way to improve room acoustics and reduce the amount of extraneous noise in the office is to establish dedicated work zones for a specific purpose. This will keep noise confined to a certain area to ensure that each department is not distracted by another.
Most organizations divide areas based on the type of work they expect employees to perform in each space. Offices are typically divided into the following work zones:
- Solo areas where employees work independently without distraction.
- Team spaces where small teams collaborate with one another.
- Communal areas where employees engage in social conversation and large group meetings.
For example, huddle rooms are private areas where employees can work independently, while team spaces are small meeting rooms where each department can collaborate and brainstorm. A communal area may be the employee break room or the board room, where large groups of employees can connect.
5. Choose the Right Furnishings
Modern office spaces often feature open floor plans to encourage collaboration and communication. However, these layouts can easily become noisy. It’s important to ensure that your employees experience the benefits of an open floor plan and high-quality room acoustics by selecting the right furnishings.
Acoustic furnishings are composed of materials that enhance room acoustics. Generally speaking, soft materials have better sound absorption than hard materials. For instance, soft couches, pillows, and chairs can help you reduce echoing in the office.
Improve Your Room Acoustics with Applied Global
If your organization requires an AV upgrade for your conference room or other office areas, Applied Global Technologies (AGT) offers the professional guidance and implementation support you need. To learn more about our AV solutions, contact us today. We’ll be happy to discuss your specific needs and recommend the right solution for your goals and budget.