The trend of open office environments is quickly killing off the traditional cubicle, but they could also kill employee productivity unless they’re set up right. Noise, nearby activity and other interruptions make employees lose an average of 2.1 hours of worktime per day, according to a Basex Research report. That adds up to more than $588 billion in lost work time per year. These tips can help.
Balance closed and open areas.
While your main feature will be the open working areas, you’ll also want to include closed-off spaces for private meetings and secluded work that requires high concentration.
Adopt acoustic absorption techniques.
While you may be tempted to go super-trendy with exposed concrete walls, glass conference room doors and higher ceilings, you’ll also end up with acoustical issues from all the hard surfaces. You can keep the trendy but quash the noise with features like acoustic ceiling tiles, acoustic panels, acoustic spray or other treatments that can balance style with silence.
Think about sound masking.
Too much quiet can be nearly as distracting as too much noise. Sound masking techniques involve using artificial background noise, such as subtle air flow or static sounds, to increase privacy. The idea is to mask the audibility of other people’s conversations without adding another distraction with the noise.
Music can add distraction and doesn’t always work, but a system that emits a subtle, white noise can. The key is to ensure the sound masking works in conjunction with other mechanical systems and creates an adequate balance.
Review mechanical systems.
A noisy air conditioner or heating system can quickly annihilate any acoustical balance throughout the entire office space. Make sure your mechanical systems have appropriate noise control, with duct lining, silencers or other methods of reducing their acoustical impact.
With the right research and design, your open office environment can provide the low levels of interruptions and high levels of productivity that every company craves.