Why is the office so loud?

Weekly Workplace Insight – October 25, 2022
By Ben Markham

Yes, offices have acoustic challenges, and from what our clients are telling us, it only seems to be getting worse!

In a post covid world, many employees have been used to working in a quiet room, and entering a loud area is a big adjustment. Unfortunately, many offices do not minimize sound patterns throughout the space, creating uneven levels of noise.

In seeking to mitigate noise disturbance in the office, Jefferson Group is providing several solutions, including sound masking, soundproofing, zoning dividers, acoustic panels, greenwalls and treatments to ceilings/walls.

When deciding which solution is best for resolving your office’s acoustical issue, the experienced Jefferson Group team starts with several considerations….

  • What is your flooring type? Concrete, wood, carpet, and tile affect office acoustics differently.
  • Do you have any wall treatments in the office? Glass walls, flex walls, and certain partitions can deflect, not absorb sound waves and amplify acoustics in certain areas.
  • How closely are employees packed in the office, and what are their activities? People’s density directly affects acoustic levels. If employees are doing heads-down work, they will need a quieter environment than collab or social spaces.
  • Do you have an environment where you are discussing private or sensitive information? If employees are on the phone discussing personal client matters, solutions may be needed to prevent neighbors or callers from hearing their discussions. Employees may also want to be sure that background noise will not intrude on their phone or video calls.
  • How are employees facing while working in the office?  Consider staff locations, the direction the person is facing usually affects where their voice travels to
  • Is there enough space where employees can meet away from their desks? Separate activity neighborhoods can simplify the acoustic measures needed.  There are many ‘easy to add’ furniture solutions that create perfect areas for private calls or focus work.
  • Could you install ceiling acoustics and not impact HVAC, fire suppression, or lighting?
  • Do you have FM&E making loud noises? Printers, copiers, heating, water pipes, doors and other building equipment can add considerably to the background noise of an office.
  • If sound-masking is an option, would central white noise or background music be a better consideration for your office?

These are just some questions asked when evaluating our clients’ acoustic challenges. Some acoustic issues are only recognized by being in the space. Therefore, we offer a free consultation to determine which solution addresses your office’s acoustics.