Open-plan designs have been all the rage in offices the past years. It’s supposed to do wonders on team relationships, increasing collaboration and building further rapport. But, as more businesses take the plunge, the drawback became clearer: excessive noise.
With employees free to chat their next-seat neighbors, distracting sounds here and there are almost inevitable. Luckily, there are design changes you can adapt to avoid making your office a chamber of jarring cacophony and to keep your employees focused. Here are some of them:
Assign quiet zones
To have some peace and quiet in an open office, you need to create areas for it. In tech offices, they usually have mini work pods. These small modular structures allow employees to drop in whenever they would need some serious concentration on a project or task.
The space is often designed to accommodate one person only. If you can get these structures yourself, then that would be a huge plus for your team’s productivity. If you’re tight on budget, you can use an unused room for your quiet zone.
Even a tiny space will do, just as long as the essentials are there: individual work desks, comfortable chairs, and charging stations. You can buy office table online if you’re in need of additional furniture. The point here is to dedicate spaces free of distracting chatter and banter noises.
Don’t forget loud zones, too
It may seem counterintuitive, but dedicating loud zones can help in limiting noises in your open-plan office. How exactly? The community spaces, like the break room, conference room, Spanish steps, or game rooms would remind your employees that there are appropriate areas for brainstorming sessions, huddles, or playful banters. That when they’re at their personal workstations and would want to shift into collaborative mode, they should step outside and into community spaces. In the same manner that you’re devoting areas for peace and quiet, dedicate some spaces for noise, too.
Aside from the mentioned facilities, add private telephone booths. As you know, phone calls are notoriously distracting in open-plan offices. With no partitions or cubicles, employees would have to endure another employee’s long client call. Let them go into private acoustic phone booths for everyone’s peace.
Invest in sound absorbing materials
Be picky in the fixtures you would put in your design and keep sound absorption in mind. For instance, choose carpet over hardwood for your floors. Hard surfaces do nothing when it comes to noise reduction, but carpets can help. For overhead surfaces, use acoustical drop ceilings. These will absorb sound waves, preventing noises from bouncing around the area and keeping sounds from moving to another room.
For the walls, install sound insulation boards. These come in different patterns and designs, which could instantly serve as your focal point. If you’re into a more natural look, consider living walls. Plants have sound absorbing capabilities, too. Plus, they’re a relaxing sight for your weary employees.
Is your open-plan office a hub of excessive noise and low productivity? Don’t let it be. Make these changes at once to stop and bring back your team’s morale.