The best office is a functional office fit for purpose – a place that entices employees to be productive and to prefer the workplace over remote working. Some businesses are still grappling with the unique challenge of how to encourage employees back to a physical office workspace and the solution may lie in transforming the traditional office setting into a vibrant, appealing environment. Updating your office interiors and focusing on acoustic considerations is a game-changing tactic and one that can often be overlooked.

Unfortunately, without considering the acoustics, trends such as warehouse conversions, exposed soffits, glazed partitions, and concrete surfaces, can backfire and lead to an unsuccessful project.

1. Get the health benefits of good acoustics

A study of over 100,000 workers in 2020 showed that only 30% of office occupants were satisfied with the noise levels in their workplace and Worksafe QLD concluded that excessive noise levels can interfere with concentration and thought processes, cause fatigue and aggression, lead to heart disease, and reduce immune response.

2. Improve your performance and productivity

Poor acoustics mean that office noise can cause distraction, which leads to negative performance in the workplace and makes employees less productive. Also, a little-known fact is that after a distraction, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for someone to get back to the task, leading to a lot of potentially wasted time. In a particularly noisy environment, this means that an employee may never get a task completed!

3. Reducing noise improves quality

Psychologists have long stated that distractions degrade the overall quality of people's work, and that noise has an impact on ‘free recall’ or memory functions. In addition, the Australasian Faculty of Occupational Medicine has done research that suggests that noise has the potential to give rise to direct compensable absence and indirect workplace absenteeism. Noise has also been linked to stress in the workplace and can even lead to musculoskeletal disorder through noise exposed workers being less likely to correct their posture.

That’s why the Association of Australasian Acoustical Consultants (AAAC) has stated that “if adequate intelligibility and acoustic comfort were provided, concentration would be easier, and participants would be less frustrated and more productive”.

4. The multiple benefits of open plan offices

Each workplace area will have its own set of acoustical requirements. Open plan office solutions can be the most challenging and will require the greatest attention to detail from an acoustic consultant.

However, the benefits of an open plan office include greater collaboration, reduction in hierarchy, higher creativity, reduced construction costs and flexibility. Reports have also been published that suggest that people who work in open plan offices tend to have higher levels of physical activity at work and lower levels of stress outside of the office.

Open plan offices have been adopted by the likes of Google and Facebook and exist in many workplaces in Australia. However, open plan office acoustics are more susceptible to the issue of mismanaged noise. A recent study of 42,764 workers across 303 office buildings concluded that distractions by noise and loss of privacy were the major causes of workspace dissatisfaction in open plan office layouts. In this research, it was also found that the most important aspect of an employee’s work environment was the ability to focus and work without interruptions.

The new age of office spaces

Today’s employees crave more than just a desk and chair to accomplish their tasks. They seek vibrant spaces that foster creativity, collaboration, and comfort, with acoustic considerations playing an integral role.

The untapped power of office interiors

A well-designed office does more than just look good; it actively boosts productivity and morale. Here's why:

Comfort: By creating inviting, comfortable spaces, employees are more likely to enjoy their time at work. This is key to reducing stress and fostering a positive work environment.

Efficiency: The thoughtful placement of departments and resources can significantly streamline workflows, reducing wasted time and increasing productivity.

Collaboration: Modern office designs often focus on creating open spaces that facilitate teamwork and communication.

Brand image: Lastly, a refreshed office interior simultaneously enhances your company's image, impressing both clients and prospective employees alike.

More about acoustics in office fitouts

In an open office layout, sound travels with minimal obstruction, leading to increased noise levels. This problem compounds further in hard-surfaced interiors, which reflect sound rather than absorbing it. Acoustic adjustments can help manage noise levels and should be a priority in any office redesign.

Bringing it all together

By revitalising office interiors and focusing on comfort, efficiency, collaboration, and acoustics, businesses can create an environment that employees love to work in.