Noise pollution

noisy office photo
If you look up the definition of the word noise in a dictionary you will find an explanation similar to that as saying ‘noise is any unwanted or unpleasant sound that causes a disturbance’.

Unwanted noise in an office environment can come from many sources and cause many problems.

This includes the stresses of not being able to remove oneself from the irritation (almost like a form of torture) and how that effects the human body, from higher blood pressure and stress levels. To extra strain on the senses for long periods of time, trying to hear and be heard. Then there is the impact it has on productivity that comes from not being able to concentrate (being able to hear yourself think) and mistakes occurring, all of which combined can have a negative impact on profits, performance and even staff morale.

noisy office

External office noise such as that from traffic and other buildings near by

Internal office noise levels from phones, machines and human communication

Internal office structure, such as air-conditioning, heating appliances.

Lack of privacy, you can’t turn off what you hear, or who hears you.

In fact, the British Standards Institute updated its BS8233 standard on office noise to its 5th version in February 2014, with both the impact on too little noise and too much noise being addressed in both cellular office environments and meeting rooms/offices as a result of the problem of noise having increased with the injection of many more office gadgets and electronic equipment.

The standard provides equations and formulas for working out and testing ambient background noise levels, the intelligibleness of speech being heard but not understood in executive offices and meeting rooms as well as appropriate levels of noise in communal office environments. With too much noise, concentration is effected and with too little noise the issue of privacy becomes apparent as the voice carries for all to hear.

With the popularity of open planned office environments helping teams build relationships and innovation, the treatment of noise is generally addressed through a collaboration of techniques and approaches, instead of one preferred singular method. Consideration to ceiling height, soft floor coverings, as well as acoustic wall panels are needed along with machines such as copiers, servers and other noisy equipment being kept in different areas or indeed their own room.

sound privacy chart

Acoustic solutions

Walls can be treated with acoustic panels/tiles that help to absorb noise from being reflected and can be part of the walls fabrication or indeed wall art variations can be purchased for those who cannot alter the office infrastructure.

Ceilings can have acoustic wave panels or bubbles applied, to help reflect noise back into the environment it came instead of being projected around the office.

Furniture solutions can also be purchased to help minimise the impact of noise, including chairs with high backs for privacy and low backs for causal less formal environments.

Regardless of your office refurbishment or move being one where you can have freedom to build into the infrastructure acoustic measures to help reduce the impact of noise, or whether you have to operate around the infrastructure, there are many ways to manage noise, and ensure your eco-office meets BSI standards with which to greatly benefit your teams productivity, will and profit margins.