With a staggering 70% of employees reporting noise distractions affecting productivity in the workplace, adaptable space solutions expert, Lotus Folding Walls & Doors, offers acoustic solutions for workspaces of the future.
The ongoing development of the open plan office space brings with it a set of challenges not previously faced by employees in the early 1950’s when the trend of the office-scape first surfaced. Fast-forward nearly 70 years to 2019, and the layout of the open plan office spaces, originally believed to increase productivity, creativity and communication among employees, has seen new challenges arise, including noise and distractions affecting productivity and employee interactions. Dr Kate Hartigan from Lotus Folding Walls and Doors, a leader in adaptable solutions, shares effective work space design solutions to create a productive and engaging office environment.
The 2018 Sony Sound Report revealed 80% of Australians encounter unwanted noise in the workplace. A third of these employees reported colleague laughter to be the most distracting, and 32% said it was unanswered phone calls. Linked to the emotional part of our brain, noise distractions can affect people in a variety of ways with studies showing it to take as long as 20 minutes to fully regain concentration on tasks. The Report also showed that 44% of employees reported to be left irritable or annoyed by the distraction, and 31% stated it to contribute to their daily stress.
To combat the distractions, 56% of employees tried to rectify the situation by simply ignoring the noise, a quarter used headphones to cover the noise, and 26% moved to a different space altogether. But these aren’t long-term solutions.
With open plan offices proving ineffective, as a “one size fits all approach” solution in the modern world than once thought, organisations are turning their attention to architectural interior designers and experts to design agile, activity based workspaces, with flexible real estate that assist with reducing stress, increasing productivity and inspiring creativity.
“Agility in furnishing systems that allow for instant reconfiguration is becoming more common. Utilizing innovative building materials and products that work to achieve better acoustic comfort can make a significant difference to people’s performance,” says Dr Hartigan. “The problem with many current open plan offices is they feature hard reflective surfaces that bring with them moderate to high reverberation issues when the space is full of disruptive noise components.” The energy of sound radiates away from its source and interacts with every surface.
As such, sound control is increasing as a major consideration in office design. Acoustics are an intrinsic property of the overall design of a floorplan, preserving the look and feel whilst optimising acoustic comfort. Sound-absorbing materials and sound separating movable walls, like Lotus Folding Walls and Doors, specialised perforated ceiling panels, free-standing screens, and the use of sound-absorbing shapes and soft absorption furniture, placed as close as possible to the noise source, are creative ways acoustic professionals are manipulating sound in built environments.
A key design component behind Lotus projects is to enable the environment to be easily modified for various purposes, both internal and client facing, whilst playing a significant role in good work place design. The use of operable walls allows for spaces to be easily adapted to suit the needs at hand, be it collaborative work, private conversations, presentations with clients or creative spaces to think and build on. The Acoustic Operable Wall product range developed by Lotus has seen manufacturing, design and acoustic capabilities expanded to keep up with the fast-growing developments of the office fit-out requirements. Pioneering the sector as the leading supplier of products to the commercial building market, the introduction of Glas-STAX, Opera, Acoustic Sliders and Rotating Panel systems has seen Lotus drive innovation in adaptable office layout forward, working closely with design professionals to satisfy the needs of the corporate world.
When designing an office with acoustic performance in mind, use and functionality of the rooms should dictate the layout. Place rooms designed primarily for speech, such as meeting and conference rooms where privacy is important strategically away from noisy teams like sales, marketing or customer service who are on the phone a lot. Quiet rooms should be accessible and strictly for quiet activities to ensure those employees needing to concentrate have comfortable places to access when needed.
“In a work space, it makes good sense to create easily modifiable spaces adaptable to the various needs of employees and the business, whether it’s quiet focused work, ad-hoc team collaborations, large-scale events or client workshops. This allows employees to be fully agile and adapt to the activities of the moment with the best spaces to suit the work at hand.” With this in mind, designing a workplace with acoustics at its core and that strives for an optimum sound level is fundamentally important,” adds Dr Hartigan.
The result of this forward-thinking, workspace design enables people to thrive, creating more comfortable, multi-use spaces that reduce stress amongst employees, maximising productivity and enabling greater levels of performance.
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