Modern workplaces are planned and designed to be inclusive. Such work environments respect and value their employees’ differences, and make them feel accepted and welcome. While such workplaces have policies in place that encourage diversity, accessibility often remains an afterthought in workspace design.
When it comes to accessibility, many workplaces go for the bare minimum – a single wheelchair access bathroom or a lift next to the staircase. These are, of course, necessary elements, but when they’re the only accessible design features in a workplace, the space remains unaccommodating for up to 24% of the population.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to inclusive design, but the goal is to create a space that can be used in a multitude of ways so as not to exclude anyone. This means considering the broad spectrum of ways that people interact with the world, and making design decisions that allow for each person to work in the way that is most comfortable and productive for them. Everybody is different, and many access needs are ‘invisible’, so consulting an accessible design expert is a great way to ensure your space is inclusive.
Creating accessible work environments with acoustics
Many modern offices are designed with an emphasis on collaboration, with most employees’ desks situated in open-plan environments. Open-plan spaces are known to be loud, busy places, and for people with vision impairments, hearing impairments, or neurodiversity, a noisy acoustic environment can seriously hinder their ability to work. Creating ‘acoustic accessibility’ in workspaces is important to ensure everyone is set up to thrive.
There are a variety of ways you can approach acoustic treatment in the workplace. Spaces that require a high level of speech intelligibility, such as meeting rooms, need more treatment to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking and listening. Acoustic baffles, acoustic screens, and wall treatments can provide acoustic absorption and a layer of acoustic and visual privacy in open-plan offices. Breakout spaces give people a choice to leave their desk if they’re feeling distracted, need to take a phone call, or want to collaborate on a project. Treating the walls of a breakout space, or installing screens and floating panels, creates a quiet environment that facilitates these activities.
The benefits of inclusive spaces
Everybody benefits from accessible workspaces. Creating an environment that is inclusive for people from all backgrounds broadens the scope of skills and expertise available to the business. It also means all employees feel comfortable and supported in the workplace, which contributes to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
Autex Acoustics supports accessible design. Reach out to us to discuss how you can use acoustic treatment to make your space more accessible.