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A Guide to Acoustics in the Workplace

A Guide to Acoustics in the Workplace

A Guide to Acoustics in the Workplace

The soundscape refers to the audible component of the acoustic environment that can be perceived by our hearing. With everyone being unique, sounds are experienced in different ways, and therefore we all have varied opinions on what might be considered noisy or disturbing.

More and more businesses have taken an interest in acoustics, and in the soundscape of the modern office where we work. With this thought, there has been a higher demand and appreciation for office furniture and furnishing to help diffuse and absorb sounds or provide staff with a means of escaping it without leaving the office. With the open office becoming the norm, soundscapes are essential both to our well-being and to how well we perform in the workplace.

To help you decide what could work acoustically for your office, we at furnify have put together this little guide. If you’re still not sure, please feel free to contact us, and we will be happy to help.

There are three primary methods for reducing reverberation (noise or echo) namely absorption, diffusion (spreading of sound) and attenuation (weaken sound from travelling). Many of the products we mention below feature combinations of these acoustic methods.

What is Absorption?

Generally speaking. Anything with a soft surface such as the carpet on the floor to the upholstery on furniture contributes to the absorption of sound. Sound waves are absorbed into surfaces that are porous, rather than bouncing off. A room with no carpet and empty walls with no furnishing will allow sound to travel and create echoes as there are no soft surfaces to absorb the sounds.

What furniture solutions help with sound absorption?

By introducing furniture upholstered in fabric and that feature a sound-absorbent core will help bring a balance between hard surfaces/materials. The furniture ideas below will help shorten reverberation times and create a more pleasant environment.

Scala Acoustic Panels
Bits Acoustic Wall Panels

What is Diffusion?

How furniture is constructed also plays a vital role in sound management. It's not only what’s on the inner core, but a combination of the structure, texture of its surfaces and shape that will affect the ambient sound. An empty hard flat surface will reflect sound directly, but a surface that is rippled or pleated will weaken sound waves by dispersing them in reflective directions. This effect is called diffusion. When this method is used, sound waves are diffused rather than broken down. One can combine the techniques of absorption with distribution to create a pleasant soundscape.

What furniture solutions are sound diffusion products?

Airflake Acoustic Panels
Aircone Panels

What is Attenuation?

Also referred to as dampening, it’s a method whereby an environment is divided into zones for privacy by using different acoustic solutions as barriers that prevent sound travelling unobstructed. The most popular and radical way in which London businesses have been working with acoustic attenuation in their open offices is to install acoustic office phone booths and pods – such as the Lohko Phone Booth. The privacy booth features a 42dB rating which prevents sound from entering or exiting providing the user with a comfortable space to make a call or do some focused work. Other useful methods that are popular in the workplace are good acoustic screens. The right room divider can help lower noise levels by up to 15dB. The standard office noise level is around 65dB, so managing the sound with the right furniture solution and achieving a reduction of 15dB will be noticed. For comparison, a wall attenuates noise by about 25dB.

Furniture solutions that help with acoustic attenuation are:

Stitch Floor Screen
Lohko Phone Booth
Jensen Hut Sofa