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The importance of acoustics in the workplace

The importance of acoustics in the workplace
Article

Why should we worry about acoustics?

 

High noise levels are one of the biggest complaints that employees have about their workplace. Noise pollution in the workplace is caused by a combination of factors: phones ringing, electronic equipment humming, chairs scraping and, most significantly, people talking. In open plan offices, this is exacerbated due to the large number of people working in close proximity and the space itself, which offers no protection against noise reverberations. Furthermore, a noisy environment will just get noisier over time as people start speaking louder to compete with the surrounding noise; this is known as the Lombard effect.

 

Many businesses are willing to invest in the appearance of their workplace but neglect the soundscape. However, noisy workplace and school environments have been shown to negatively impact productivity, reduce concentration levels, increase stress and impair the ability to learn.

 

AJ Products offers acoustic solutions to help businesses combat this problem.

 

How do acoustic panels work?

 

Acoustic panels have a sound-insulating core material such as PET or mineral wool often inside a wooden frame and then covered in porous fabric. They are designed to trap sound waves and control reverberations in enclosed areas. In most large indoor spaces, sound waves will bounce off any solid surfaces, such as the walls and ceiling, creating echoes and increasing the overall volume. However, when sound waves hit a purpose-built acoustic panel, the porous outer layer allows the sound to penetrate the core material, which absorbs the noise by converting the waves into vibrations, generating a small amount of heat. This heat disperses quickly so that the sound waves dissipate instead of bouncing off the surface, thereby reducing background noise.

 

What are the benefits of acoustic panels?

 

1. Improve the soundscape and facilitate communication

Acoustic panels absorb unwanted sound such as echoes and noise from surrounding areas, making other sounds clearer. This makes it easier for people to hear and understand each other, whether in an open-plan office, classroom or lecture hall.

 

2. Reduce stress levels and improve well-being

Noisy environments are one of the biggest complaints people have in workspaces and high background noise has been shown to increase stress by making it difficult for people to hear and concentrate. Reducing the noise levels creates a more welcoming environment for staff and clients alike.

 

3. Improve productivity

Likewise, high noise levels have been linked with lower productivity due to the increased risk of distractions. Improving acoustics makes it easier for staff to concentrate, make and receive phone calls and hold conversations at comfortable volumes without distracting other colleagues.

 

4. Provide privacy

Although ease of communication is one of the principal benefits of an open plan office, it is sometimes necessary for staff to conduct private conversations. Acoustic panels or pods muffle sound, making it possible for employees to hold conversations without being overheard.

 

5. Improve safety

In workplaces with noisy equipment or machinery, it is important that staff can communicate easily to avoid accidents. By absorbing reverberations and background noise, acoustic panels make it much easier for staff to hear each other.

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