A modern take on acoustics

Regardless of the many years of evolution, the sense of hearing still functions best when surrounded by nature. Contemporary lifestyle, loud machines, transportation system and human activity all account for the sometimes overwhelming noise. Recently, specialists working in the field of acoustics introduced a new term: ‘noise pollution’ to describe the key problem of present workplaces.

It is believed that most of acoustic problems are due to badly constructed buildings and poor room layout. In a world created by nature it is extremely hard to find straight, parallel lines that reflect sound waves off of surfaces. Offices with long hallways and no soundproof décor are standard these days. They don’t reduce the level of noise but on the contrary, increase the level of sound that gets carried into neighbouring offices. However, with a few easy tweaks we are able to reduce the negative effects of a bad design. We can introduce irregular forms, soft fabrics or convex desks in communal and reception areas that diffuse irritating sound energy.
Ekskluzywna lada recepcyjna Alpa do biura, hotelu, srebrna
Human brain continually processes sounds that are delivered to it and there are too many of them in a workspace, e.g. phones ringing, printers working, conversations and noises coming from everywhere. Due to high noise level and its negative impact on employees a legislation, that stated no noise exceeding 65dB is allowed in a workplace, was introduced. Taking into consideration the fact that noise level of a hoover is 60dB, we can easily say the legislation isn’t enough.
What more, auditory impressions are an individual matter and even though some people don’t mind particular sounds, others may hate them. Music may be stimulating to one person, and absolutely annoying to another member of staff, especially if their job requires full concentration. Therefore, solutions that improve acoustics of neighbouring desks are invaluable in a modern office; soft fabrics, soundproof panels or height adjusted desks that differentiate and diffuse sound waves are beneficial, however, still not enough.
Yvette Tietema, a psychoacoustics expert who specialises in creating workplaces that promote good health pinpoints zoning as the key to success. The first step to positive changes is accepting the fact that efficiency doesn’t mean sitting at your desk for 8 hours per day. Modern environment needs to account for a variety. What seems just an unnecessary noise might be useful in closer proximity. On the other hand, noise that’s close by might become neutral when shifted into the background.
Dr. Vinesh Oommen of the Queensland University of Technology’s Institute of Health and Bio-medical Innovation proved in his study that noises coming from a distance of 4-5metres are the most unwanted and bothersome, and that’s why effective space management is so important: sit co-workers with similar temperaments or working in the same team beside each other, allow controlled disturbances in social zones, create quiet work areas and isolated conference rooms.
Yan-Drive - Biurko z elektryczną regulacją wysokości
Yan-Drive - Biurko z elektryczną regulacją wysokości
Conversation about modern office is mainly a discussion about variety, with acoustic products being an integral part of its space. They define the functionality of each area without ne need of putting up physical walls that are hard to modify- designer Dymitr Malcew explained. In my opinion the sore spot of many workplaces is mainly the lack of flexibility. If we ask people to work in open space, we need to provide them with an alternative of a quiet or private room. By allowing employees to freely choose their optimal working conditions, we stimulate their creativity and dynamism.
Nowoczesne przegrody biurowe Sonic - tkaninowy panel do biurka
Some people are productive regardless of the environment they are in, whereas others need peace and quiet in order to do their job right. Originally, noise was triggering a feeling of fight and escape in us and still is a source of negative emotions. By understanding how acoustics relate to optimal sensory stimulation and considering it when designing an office, we are improving work efficiency, team work and company’s success.