A Sound Decision

When we’re on deadline at Gallery there is usually a lot of noise. People, phones, headphones, music, raised voices and dog barking. When you’re trying to concentrate it’s hard having your thought processes interrupted by third party noise.

This month we met Mark Shaw from Style Group. He’s a man fascinated by sound, he’s even got an app for it. You see workplace noise is a big issue. Today’s modern open plan office environments are great for paper aeroplanes and spying on people but not for trying to have an important private conversation. The bigger the business and the more confidential the subject matter the more pertinent the issue of acoustics becomes. Our cubic offices with glass partitions ensure our voices are bounced around all over. A clap can echo around a room for seconds rather than dissipating. Each second that noise interrupts your day is one you’re not working well and as comfortably as you should. Now extrapolate that out to a whole organisation.

Mark’s interest was bolstered by the identification of a partner in the UK that makes sound absorbing solutions. When a local law firm’s client had complained that their offices were not conducive to confidential meetings, it meant these new solutions were the perfect option, enabling the firm to maintain the open plan space but not worry about confidential words travelling further than they should.

Ironically it’s the fact that we’re making things quieter that is part of the problem. As our ambient noise levels become lower with quieter air conditioning units and better sound insulation, the ability for our individual voices to interrupt is made easier. An office is generally 60db (decibels of sound), rising to 80db if there are lots of heightened voices. If you were working on a building site with noise at that level then you’d be asked to wear ear defenders.

Absorbing noise is the first option, but you can also follow the ABC mantra and either block or cover the noise too. A second product, the Logison provides an acoustic network that masks the sound level with ambient computer generated noise. Delivered by means of a system of suspended speakers the system ensures a suitable level of sound that prevents individual voices becoming disruptive, raising the ambient noise level and, using the analogy Mark gave, tempering the water, temperate in terms of the levels of noise sloshing around.

Sound is certainly a science and Mark is working more and more with developers to incorporate this technology into new builds but retro fitting is also easy. Mark has just completed a project for a call centre where hanging ceiling mounted equipment cut out the problem of people feeling they were all speaking to everyone else’s callers.

If you’re frustrated by sound, give Style a call and arrange for Mark to visit you, with an iPad and he can measure your levels and create an acoustic solution that’s the perfect formula for you.

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