How to make open plan offices work

Nailing your open plan office design.

We recently hosted a series of educational sessions in conjunction with Orange box and Acoustics expert Colin Rawlings to discuss acoustics in the workplace. Colin has over 13 years experience, specialising in solutions to prevent or solve acoustic issues in the workplace.

Colin spoke with the NZ Herald about the importance of Acoustics in the workplace and shared his top tips for combatting sound pollution in an open office.

“UK-based member of the Institute of Acoustics Colin Rawlings said a poorly planned office could result in a significant decrease in staff productivity. Rawlings said there were 15 to 20 per cent more people in the same space today compared with 10 years ago, but said it was possible to have an office that was aesthetic and acoustically well-planned.

“If it’s done properly it works well because you get more collaboration but it does have to be well planned.” Although open-plan was becoming extremely popular, Rawlings said aesthetics were often put ahead of acoustics with plans including lots of wood and glass and high ceilings which then echoed and ended up being distracting and noisy for staff.”

Colin’s Top Tips

  • Plan the office with a space planner and in consultation with staff
  • Create breakout spaces from private to semi-private to cater for different uses
  • Use desk-dividing screens in between rows of desks to reduce the distance sound can travel
  • Avoid big, open ceilings made of concrete, wood or glass and use suspended ceilings to avoid echoing
  • Use acoustic tiles where necessary
  • Consider sound-masking systems with white noise or pink noise which artificially raises background sound level

Read the full article here.

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