The working world has a love-hate relationship with open office plans and a good deal of that centers around noise. Dealing with noise means paying attention to acoustics.
“The trend is to open office planning,” says Dave Paoli, Shiner & Associates, Chicago, IL. Paoli, an acoustics consultant, often is called in early in the planning process. While employers believe that an open office plan promotes collaboration and teamwork, employees often have other views. In other words, what is sound to one person, may be noise to another.
On December 30, 2014 the Washington Post ran a personal essay attacking open office plans. Written by Lindsey Kaufman, an advertising professional, it noted that after one day in a new, open plan office, she ran out to buy noise cancelling head phones.
It’s no surprise that studies have shown that the better employees are at screening out distractions, including and especially noise, the more effectively they can work in an open office situation.
The noise level depends on the type of open office plan, as well as attention paid to acoustics. Are there cubicles? If so, how high are the walls? How many sides (three sided with the fourth open or three plus sided, with only a small “doorway” opening on the fourth side)? If they aren’t in cubicles, are the employees at desks or sharing a long table? Besides conversation, what else produces noise? HVAC? Computer monitors? Telephones? Office machinery, such as copiers? And has anyone paid attention to acoustics?
Read CISCA’s White Paper: Acoustics in Open Office Situations >
The Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA) exists to provide the acoustical ceiling and wall systems industry with a network of relevant opportunities for professionals to interact, grow and prosper through actionable education.