Open office space designs are popular and have become the layout of choice for many businesses. By removing walls and visual barriers, many companies find that collaboration and productivity improve. Additionally, many open office layouts allow for an increase in natural lighting which can improve employee morale and assist in recruitment. Open floor plans can also be less expensive per employee (cost per square foot) than traditional offices and cubes in that there is a lower space requirement per employee.
However, open office spaces by their very nature tend to be noisier than traditional office settings, because the walls that block and absorb sounds are not there. If not managed appropriately, this could hurt productivity.
There are 6 strategies that can help prevent or reduce noise problems in open office space designs:
- Cubicle partitions can be installed to help absorb noise. Even partitions with low walls can be effective.
- Consider installing a drop-ceiling with sound-absorbing acoustical tiles.
- Designate a walled office as a conference room, and another as a quiet work space for employees to use.
- Designate a “noisy” space for employees; this may be a kitchen area or break room where employees know that it’s OK to talk in a normal tone of voice with one another.
- So-called “white noise” can be effective in helping mask the sounds of conversations. Piped in music can be distracting and employees may feel the need to try to “talk over” the sound, but low-level ambient sounds can be helpful.
- Last but not least, headphones are the new walls in open office space design. Not only do they cut out noise, allow the employee to listen to what they can work best with, but also send a message of “Do Not Disturb.”
By using a combination of the ideas above, in a manner that makes sense for your business, you can achieve the benefits of on open office layout without realizing a drain on employee productivity.
Contact us to learn more about utilizing open office space to its full advantage.