The 3 most common acoustical issues in your office

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The three most common acoustical issues in your office and how to solve them

One of the major issues our clients commonly run into are acoustical challenges within their office space.  If you find yourself questioning the acoustics in your own space, consider the following solutions.

1) “I can hear every word my coworkers are saying”

Most likely, this is due to you working in an open office environment.  This a natural side effect of bringing down the panel walls between workstations to use the existing space more efficiently with smaller workstations.  Thankfully, there is still a lot that you can do about it:

  • Solution 1: The Living Office – Make sure that you create spaces for your employees in which they can extract themselves from the open office, and shut the doors behind them for privacy for at least 1-2 hours per day. Supporting collaboration and pushing teamwork is great and can increase productivity drastically – but only if your employees have the ability to move to a quiet room once in a while.  It is all about creating choices for your employees and letting them work where and how they work best.With our strategic partner, Herman Miller, we apply the Living Office Strategy to our design process.
  • Solution 2: Sound Masking -Speakers above or below the ceiling grid create a so-called “white noise.”  This sounds almost like the muffling of your HVAC vents blowing air, but it is set to a specific frequency to mask the human voice.  It creates noise that is not distracting to the human brain.  For example, you can hear that your co-workers are talking 10 feet away, but you can’t hear their exact words.  In result, your brain is relieved from the strain of listening in.

2) “Employees can overhear confidential discussions held in our conference rooms”

  • Solution 1: Muraflex Glass Walls – There are many vendors on the market, but not all provide high-quality systems without gaps that let sound travel through.  In our office, we have different systems of Muraflex glass walls installed.  We can confidently say that they are by far the best option on the market when it comes to functionality, ease of install and acoustical value.
  • Solution 2: Acoustical Wall Fill –Most commercial buildings have the ceiling grid below the actual deck above the ceiling.  This is a common way of creating pathways for cabling, HVAC ducts, andplumbing above the ceiling.  Walls that have been installed after the original shell of the building have been built will only reach a few inches above the ceiling grid, which means that sounds travel easily through the acoustical ceiling tile and over the wall into the next room.  To avoid this, you can have a contractor extend those walls to the deck, or add some acoustical wall fill insulation 4 feet out on each side of those walls.Sound can easily travel through doors, above walls, and even through glass walls that are not acoustically sealed.  Adding a second layer of drywall or using additional soundproofing glues will increase the Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of your walls.  For gaps between the door and the floor, there are soundproofing door kits available, which tightly seal the gaps once the door is closed.

3) “It is uncomfortably loud in my office.”

  • Solution 1: Soft Surfaces –This sound issue is created by the reverberation of sounds and can be improved by adding soft surfaces including:
    • lounge furniture
    • window treatments
    • acoustical artwork or accessories
    • Carpet tile instead of hard surfaces
    • A wall finish like BuzziSkin from BuzziSpace can increase the Noise Reduction Rating of a room immensely after a build out.
  • Solution 2: Ceiling Tiles or Clouds – When renovating your space, make sure to use acoustical ceiling tiles or acoustical ceiling clouds in an open ceiling environment.
  • Solution 3: Flooring Solutions – Consider using carpet tile instead of hard surfaces, which also helps tremendously.When choosing sound absorption products, make sure to check the NRC rating. An NRC rating of 1.0 absorbs 100% of the sounds directed to the product.  To put this into perspective, drywall with a layer of paint has an NRC rating of 0.3.  Acoustical ceiling tiles provide an NRC rating of up to 0.9.

Its very important to consider acoustics when planning your office renovation. For more information on acoustics or how to prevent noise pollution in your office, contact us to speak with a workplace expert!

How your workspace can help you reach healthier goals

BSI and Herman Miller are supporting your goals to be healthier and more active. On average Americans work 34.4 hours a week and most of this time is spent at a desk. Excessive sitting has been linked with cancer, heart disease and diabetes and even depression.

Here are our top three workplace furnishings that support healthy goals.

Ergonomic Task Chair

Ergonomic seating solutions, like the Herman Miller Aeron chair, can increase productivity by properly supporting the back and encouraging healthy posture.

Prolonged sitting or not using the proper task chair, can cause physical issues like fatigue, spinal disc compression, and general discomfort. Simply improving your task chair can result in happier, healthier employees – and potential savings due to a decrease in work-related musculoskeletal disorders. A combination of sitting, standing, and moving over the course of the workday—and not too much of any one activity—is the best approach to managing the balance between postural risk and physical comfort.

Height Adjustable Tables and Worksurfaces

In addition to its line-up of performance work chairs, Herman Miller offers a selection of tables and workstations that provide postural options through fast, easy height adjustability. At the push of the button, easily move from a seated position to a standing position allowing better blood flow and circulation.

Smart Furnishings

New to Herman Miller is the ‘Fitbit for your desk’ Live OS app. By pairing the app with any connected desk, users can set preferences for sitting and standing and move comfortably between the two throughout the day. The app will send reminders when it’s time to change postures and gradually helps individuals achieve activity goals.

Today’s workplaces are healthier than ever. Ask us how your workspace can help you reach your healthy lifestyle goals.