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Acoustic Design Is Important in the Workplace

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Did you know that noise is the most significant cause of employee complaints in office spaces? Excessive noise levels in the workplace can lead to physical and psychological effects on employees, including tinnitus, stress, and permanent hearing loss if noise levels remain high over an extended period. On the other hand, a space that is too quiet can also be unsettling, as demonstrated by the Microsoft anechoic chamber, recognised as the quietest place on earth at –20.3 dBA, where individuals can hear their own heartbeat but can only spend 45 minutes in the chamber before feeling uncomfortable.

It’s essential to strike a balance between sound levels in the workplace. This is where acoustical design comes in, which is an essential aspect of creating a productive and healthy work environment. Acoustical design can do more than just eliminate noise; it can enhance the user experience, improve well-being, and increase employee engagement and productivity.

Haworth, a leading furniture and workplace solutions provider, understands the impact of acoustics on productivity and overall well-being. To this end, Haworth has created an acoustic design guide that provides practical guidance on how to create an ideal sound environment, considering well-being, privacy, and concentration.

The acoustic design guide covers scientific basics such as sound absorption coefficients, how sound travels, and methods for blocking and reducing audio disturbance. It also includes real-world examples of acoustic design applications suitable for different spaces. The guide is a valuable resource for organisations looking to invest in their employees’ well-being and enhance their overall success.

Employers must take proactive measures to mitigate the risks associated with workplace noise. These measures can include using noise-reducing equipment, ensuring employees have access to hearing protection and conducting regular noise surveys to ensure noise levels remain within safe limits. By taking these steps, employers can help protect the health and well-being of their employees and create a safer, more productive workplace.

To determine if a workplace is too noisy, a good rule of thumb is to assess whether or not a person can clearly hear another speaking from a distance of two meters. Noise meters can help measure noise levels and provide an indication of noise levels or carry out a more detailed noise survey. However, interpreting the results of noise measurements in accordance with regulations can be technical and may require expert assistance.

Investing in acoustical design is an investment in the well-being of employees and the overall success of the organisation. By creating an optimal sound environment, employers can enhance employees’ productivity, concentration, and overall well-being, which can lead to greater success for the organisation.

Acoustical design plays a vital role in creating a productive and healthy work environment. It is essential to strike a balance between sound levels in the workplace, as excessive noise or silence can lead to physical and psychological issues for employees. Employers must take proactive measures to mitigate the risks associated with workplace noise, including using noise-reducing equipment, providing hearing protection, and conducting regular noise surveys.

By investing in acoustical design, employers can create an optimal sound environment that enhances employees’ well-being and productivity, ultimately leading to greater success for the organisation. Haworth’s acoustic design guide is a valuable resource for organisations looking to create an ideal sound environment for their workplace.


David Radar, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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