10 sound steps to a productive workspace
Welcome to the second #workingWELL blog. This week, we’re building on the myths and facts around background noise in the workspace – as we look at our 10-step approach to making sure the sound levels around your office aid rather than hinder your people.
Why is it important? 99% of people say that office noises, from unanswered phones to colleagues’ conversations, get in the way of work. And it’s one of the key points assessed by WELL, the leading building standard for health and wellbeing – who look for its impact on employees’ ability to focus – and even simply chat to colleagues.
The 10-step approach
Follow this simple guide, and the sound levels around your workspace will aid rather than hinder your people. It’ll also score highly if WELL’s team of assessors come to visit.
Stage one: Mapping
Step 1. Activities – identify which individual employees spend more time concentrating or interacting with colleagues.
Step 2. Privacy – identify the level of privacy people need to do their work.
Stage two: Design
Step 3. Behavioural support – invest in equipment and infrastructure that create a better soundscape across your workspace, e.g. mobile technologies or flexible multi-use areas.
Step 4. Behavioural policy – define ways of using spaces and develop protocols that reduce distractions, then enshrine the results in HR policy.
Step 5. Zoning – develop an office layout that complements employees’ activities. Put people who focus a lot in one area, with meeting rooms nearby for when they need to collaborate.
And group more collaborative teams together, with small focus rooms for when they need concentrate on a complex piece of work.
Step 6. Planning – carefully consider how shared spaces like printer rooms, coffee bars, breakout areas and conference suites will impact the people working around them, and ensure there’s adequate space or barriers to reduce noise.
Step 7. Furniture – choose furniture which complies with the WELL Standard. For example, use partitions around desks that absorb sound, so that when you talk, the noise doesn’t bounce back and disrupt people behind you. And use features like filing cabinets and high-backed sofas to further block noise.
Stage three: Treatment
Step 8. Materials – carefully pick the right materials in your fitout. Products that absorb sound improve sound quality inside a room. Products that stop or reduce sound transmission help to sound-proof a room.
Step 9. Ratings – Compare the performance of your workspace’s sound proofing and absorption against WELL’s STC rating.
Step 10. Sound masking – the last resort in open offices, you can introduce constant sounds to mask noise, for example water or calming music.
Enhancing the Space and Experience
Another useful solution is our Space and Experience Toolkit (SET). It’s a portfolio of around 300 science-based tools that help you to design and structure your workspace around your needs. These vary from productivity to engagement, wellbeing to simple employee satisfaction – you simply choose which ones you need and directly link them to your business and even individual employees’ goals.
Next week, #workingWELL looks at light. Sign up for alerts and we’ll let you know the instant it lands!
"*" indicates required fields