A few years ago, an open-plan office layout was the trend in workplace design, but opinions have changed since. Research has shown that open-plan offices significantly impact employee productivity. More importantly, open-plan offices are extremely loud. You might know about these negative factors firsthand. Fortunately, with acoustic solutions like sound-absorbing materials, you can turn your office to a functional workspace.
Origin of the Open Plan
Back in the 20th Century, workplace designers started to promote the open-plan office layout. The idea only took off in the 2000s when tech giants Google, Facebook, and Apple redesigned their headquarters into colossal open workplaces. By their example, other smaller businesses followed suit.
You might be sitting in an open-plan office right now. What do you feel about the layout? In its heyday, open-plan offices were touted to be the workplace design of the future. CEOs and managers saw it as a way to improve collaboration between colleagues and foster creativity. Ironically, employees have since felt otherwise.
Problems with the Open Plan
Research has shown that open-plan workplaces have more negative consequences than positive ones. A 2018 Harvard Business School study found that employees collaborate less by 73% in person so as not to distract or disturb co-workers. Instead, workers instant message or e-mail each other more. The supposed benefit of open-plan spaces then is a farce.
However, the most significant factor lies in the acoustics of the office. Noise, according to a study named “What’s That Sound?,” makes 69% of employees feel lower levels of concentration, productivity, and creativity. Distractions included conversations with co-workers or over the phone, ringing phones, and the sound of walking people, due to open workplace environments.
Turn Down the Noise
In the course of reading this at an open office, you may have already been distracted once or twice. Fortunately, acoustic solutions through sound absorbing materials can quickly solve your open office problems. Interior designers can take your workplace needs into account and eliminate the noise that open-plan offices make.
For example, you can ask for carpets to be added to your office. Offices with wood, ceramic tile, or concrete flooring tend to produce more noise from people walking around. In contrast, carpeting can help reduce walking sounds from distracting employees.
In another example, you can place strategic sound partitions that you can move around at will. You retain the open-plan environment in a sense so that you still feel free to move around. In turn, the partitions can block out some of the noise coming from adjacent areas or desks. You can also cater to collaborative work by positioning the barriers around the area that your team will work in.
Soundproof Walls and Ceilings
Finally, you can soundproof your walls or set ceiling installations. These options also reduce the overall noise in the office by cutting down on sound echoes, the main culprit in a noisy open-plan office. Meanwhile, these elements also add a touch of color, design, and artistry to your space.
Solve Your Office Acoustics
Open-plan offices have been proven to be noisy and distracting. With the examples given and other acoustically-absorbent options, however, you can say goodbye to the headaches of an open-plan office even without completely reconstructing your workplace.