Considering Noise Levels When Choosing Office Furniture, Part 1

Considering Noise Levels When Choosing Office Furniture, Part 1

There are a number of considerations any office manager or business owner will have to think about when designing an office, particularly the popular modern open design plan. You’re considering where employees will sit and convene to maximize productivity, how you’ll keep things comfortable and energetic during the work day, and several other factors.

At New Life Office, we’re here to remind you of one important area here that’s often glossed over: Noise levels. When you’re browsing our new and used office furniture, from office cubicles to file cabinets, seating options and much more, you should be considering the way your layout and design impacts the noise employees are exposed to during work. This two-part blog will examine several important themes here, from scientific recommendations to how you can achieve optimal noise levels without interrupting comfort or productivity – and, in fact, heightening both these areas.

General Noise Level Recommendations

According to the American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers, the optimal sound levels for humans sits between 48 and 58 decibels. The 48-52 decibel range appears to be the sweet spot for many offices – too much louder, particularly over 58, can lead to distractions and bother, while too much lower than 48 may actually be too quiet and inspire the same kinds of distraction.

So what does this actually mean? You can’t have an engineer with you in the office, though it’s easy enough to buy a decibel reader at any home improvement store. If efficiency and comfort are truly top priorities in your office, purchase one of these and test major work areas to see where their standard volume sits. If it’s well outside this range, consider some of the themes we’re about to go over for ways to get back to the proper levels.

Achieving Optimal Levels

A few general tips for managing office noise levels:

  • Wood: Wood products have a very specific interaction with sound, and can help direct it and contain it in many areas.
  • Partitions: Think about the important work areas your employees utilize regularly, and which should be walled off from others when it comes to noise concerns.
  • Meeting rooms: For specific meeting or conference rooms, consider larger wood features with mass that will block large areas of sound.

Sound “Districts”

Down similar lines, it’s good to think about your office in terms of sound districts, or areas where certain sounds are okay or not okay. This kind of attention will help you encourage proper workflow and discourage distractions or areas that might lower productivity. They can even help you vastly alter the environment of a given area in your office if you feel it needs improvement.

For more on utilizing sound properly within your office design, or to learn about any of our new office furniture products, speak to the staff at New Life Office today.

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