A modern, dynamic office has many different environments and there can be multiple things going on at the same time. This could be a busy sales floor with phones ringing off the hook, accountants busy keeping the numbers right in a quiet quarter, administrators typing and printing and of course, the manager or director having meetings in the boardroom or having a one on one with a big client.
With all of these moving parts, is it possible to keep the sound from each area within the area we want it without going back to the 80’s and having big, unsightly partitions and cubicles? The short answer is yes! The longer answer is below.
Having started in the construction business back in 96’, I have learned a few things about how things are done and the typical methods for fitting out an office. Since the late 90’s I moved away from the construction side to focus more on sound and music. Going back in to this environment years later I found the methods haven’t changed so much when it comes to this type of fit out. But knowing what I know now, I can see the problems and figured out how to fix them.
An office is a workspace with a thin veneer over the inner workings, which can be found just behind a ceiling tile. Looking in to this entirely different world living just above your head gives you an insight as to why the sound can travel from the director’s office into the main office filled with employees and vice versa. If there is sensitive information being discussed, this is not ideal and could lead to all kinds of problems.
It is possible to resolve this issue and to do this we first need to examine where the problem is coming from. Initially we would have a sound engineer like myself come out for a site visit. We would then take some measurements and check (as mentioned before) above the ceiling tiles, checking doors are a good fit, looking for any poor joinery work in the fit out which has left gaps in partitions. Once these are identified a plan will be made to correct all of them. This will be our first step in resolving the issue.
After that, we would look to either add mass to the existing ceiling, build a new ceiling or build soundproofed partitions up the structural ceiling. The decision on this would be up to the client on the engineer’s advice. This solution would reduce most, if not all, of the noise transferred from one area to another. Bearing in mind that a joinery contractor built the original partition and ceiling, it is a good idea to have a professional soundproofing company carry out this work if you want to achieve a favorable outcome.
Further treatment is available if required. For example, keeping the area where the accountants work quiet in an open space? To help control the sound in a given space we use a mixture of reflective and absorbent materials measured and placed in specific areas, at specific heights, to maximise or minimize the noise as required. This isn’t guesswork and the outcome is not a fluke.
If these calculations are done correctly the result should be a deadened, quiet space and reduced reflective noise or “echo” in the main work area. This constant echo causes unnecessary ear fatigue. Studies have shown that reducing fatigue at work increases productivity and offers better overall health for its employees. There are fascinating articles on the HSE.GOV website and the Australian Government website. What a lovely byproduct of a commercial installation.
Finally, lets talk about the aesthetics. Soundproofing can come in many shapes and sizes. It is possible to soundproof a wall or ceiling and have it look more or less identical to how it looked before treatment. Some customers prefer to have the soundproofing as a feature and use bright colours, 3D designer panels, soft-plush cushioned panels or an opportunity to show their branding in a unique way. Acoustic panels can be made to all shapes and sizes and come if a variety of finishes, either off the shelf or made to order.
If you are having trouble with the acoustics in your office, Beyond Sound LTD. are here to help. Just get in touch today for your free estimate.