13 May, 2019 | Written by Premis

Reducing the Impact of Noise in the Open-plan Workplace

Open-plan layouts have well and truly become the ‘norm’ for the workplace environment. While offering many positives in terms of increased communication and collaboration, an open floor plan also presents the challenge of potentially disruptive noise levels which can significantly impact productivity.

So how can you keep the noise levels down in an open-plan workplace, and still maintain a collaborative environment? Here’s a few well-tested strategies.

Dedicated Quiet Rooms

While open offices foster creativity and teamwork, your employees may need a more structured and quiet space to work in from time to time.

Incorporating quiet rooms or “privacy pods” allow individuals to work without distraction while making a phone call or undertaking an activity that requires complete, uninterrupted focus. These rooms are best positioned away from direct workplace noise and should be equipped with adequate soundproofing and plenty of power points for laptops and other devices.

Collaboration Spaces

Providing dedicated rooms for brainstorming and collaborative activities will also help to keep noise levels down. Also called “huddle rooms”, these spaces allow small teams to work together without disrupting co-workers with their conversation.

To help encourage creative thinking, consider incorporating eye-catching design features such as coloured feature walls and artwork.  Whiteboards and video screens are also worthwhile inclusions to facilitate collaboration with teams at other locations.

This huddle room at the QLD Department of Housing and Public Works’ Rockhampton office allows small groups to meet and engage in conference calls with other teams. The wall graphic adds interest to what would otherwise be a bland wall, and is complemented by the brightly-coloured chairs and textured carpet.

Use of Acoustic Materials

There are a range of acoustic materials available that can assist to block, mask or absorb noise throughout the workplace.  Upholstered workstation screens, carpeting in desk areas and moveable acoustic screens are all popular choices.

This student and academic administration office at the University of Queenland needed to balance the need for engagement with the student body whilst maintaining a high level of acoustic and visual privacy for the staff.  

To solve this challenge, a bespoke screening system incorporating planting, display shelves and moveable acoustic panels was installed. The screening provides a barrier between the reception, offices and workplace that could be adapted to suit the faculties specific needs of acoustic and visual separation whilst remaining transparent.

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