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Can you “Hear” the Comfort?



Ease of communication is among the chief reasons we come together in a workplace. After all, modern companies are the sum of many moving parts, and it’s only by openly sharing information that any team’s success can be realized.


And yet, despite the need for fluid communications, the National Institute of Building Sciences notes that “acoustic comfort” is an often unrepresented aspect of office buildings:


“The acoustical environment of a workspace is typically given little or no attention during project planning and design. The functionality and aesthetics of the workspace are usually the primary focus of the designer. Too often overlooked, are the factors contributing to the productivity of employees occupying the workspace. Providing a comfortable environment for employees contributes significantly to their optimum performance and reduced absenteeism…The assault on ears in the workplace can come from traffic noise outside, mechanical equipment in adjacent spaces, and copiers, phones, and voices within the workspace.”


For most of us, the challenge of ambient noise is a minor inconvenience—an annoyance we accept almost automatically, simply from being conditioned to expect that there’s no alternative. And yet, even minor annoyances can add up to significant losses in productivity, when speaking in terms of months, years, or full careers. As noted in a study of roughly 3700 participants, 60% of those surveyed said they could get more done if it was quieter, while 50% said noises kept them from being as productive as they could be.


By better understanding the “soundscape” of an office (and factors which contribute different noises, such as nearby traffic or open workstations) facility managers can take steps to improve acoustic comfort. In a comprehensive report on workspace sound quality, the GSA Public Buildings Service offers an array of suggestions, from identifying and modifying work patterns to building—or retrofitting—with sound-absorbing ceilings and walls. According to the report, even the right types of furniture can make a difference.


These steps, along with addressing other common problems with lighting and temperature, can make an enormous difference when it comes to managing workspaces that are assets, not liabilities. 


Managing “noise comfort” of a facility provides a critical boost in efficiency, when that efficiency can increase by half. Do you hear that? It’s acoustic comfort; the sound solution to getting the most out of your workday. 


Do you have specific questions about how to make your office more comfortable? Send them our way and we’ll do our best to address them in a post!

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