Noise is a common issue in the workplace, but employees react differently to its presence (or lack thereof). Some employees find noise stimulating and silence distracting, while others need near-silence to be productive. It may also depend on the type of work performed. Some creative workers love the stimulation of music, while others, such as writers, find it distracting (coming up with your own words while listening to the words of others can be a challenge).
- Commercial interior designers use three main strategies, the ABCs of noise control:
- Absorption: Includes acoustical ceiling tiles, fabrics, and carpet
- Blocking: Includes your furniture system, partitions, panels, screens, and walls
- Covering: Masking sounds
In addition to following the ABCs, you should arrange workstations so that people doing similar jobs, or those with similar noise preferences, work near each other. You can also create discrete areas of noise and quiet to allow collaboration to occur without disturbing the concentration of other workers.
Of course, many employees create their own noise utopia with the application of earbuds or noise-cancelling headphones. That doesn’t mean your office design doesn’t also play a role. At a minimum, you should offer a quiet room with a door, a place where employees can escape the noise of the work floor to concentrate on detailed or complicated tasks.
Your office interior design can go a long way toward motivating your employees, increasing their productivity, and even inspiring greater creativity. Of course, if all you have is a bare bones facility with little more than workstations for your people, the opposite is also true.
Discrete areas designed for collaboration, concentration, and even fun create a flexible working environment, one that supports the many aspects of the work you do, as well as the people who do it. By giving your employees a quiet area to concentrate on difficult tasks, or a dedicated spot for collaborating with teammates, you promote greater creativity and, in the process, improve productivity and create happier employees.
Try Opening Up
A workplace interior that uses open plan workstations and breakout pods helps promote collaboration, innovation, and teamwork. This type of design is ideal for industries that thrive on people bouncing ideas off one another. Downsides include a lack of privacy and distractions. To make it work, you need to also create private areas where employees can exchange sensitive information or escape the noise and distractions often found in an open design.
If you want the best of both worlds, you may be able to combine a traditional working environment with an open plan by surrounding the open space with cubicles or offices and allowing employees to travel freely between the two areas.