Acoustics are one of those things that you never give a second thought; until you’re in a room where the acoustics are horrible, that is. Have you ever been in a restaurant where you can barely hear yourself think, let alone hear your friend across the table? What about those spaces where the sound carries and you hear conversations that ought to be private? These scenarios are often the result of poor acoustics and these same acoustic issues could be impacting your business negatively.
Sound isn’t visual, so it is often difficult for business owners to recognize when there is a problem. If a light went out or a pipe was leaking, someone would be on it right away. But with acoustic issues, this is rarely the case and we often work with huge problems for months or years before the sound leak is fixed.
Most people have a sort of sonic sweet spot when it comes to ambient noise and productivity. But hearing conversations, music, and the general symphony of office sounds is typically bad for most office workers. These sounds are distracting and often lead to a significant reduction in workplace efficiency; The Sound Agency estimates that the productivity for knowledge-based tasks can be reduced by as much as two-thirds.
Good acoustics in the office place make good cents - pun intended!
Whether you are offering instruction to an employee or trying to make a sale in the boardroom, good acoustics can help. When you’re in a room with echoes, reverb and a cacophony of noise, it becomes difficult for your audience to hear you. The brain must now siphon off the ambient sound and process your voice, but often the distractions get in the way and your message isn’t delivered as clearly and powerfully as you intend for it to be delivered.
For those who work in particularly noisy environments like call centres and restaurants, poor acoustics could actually be damaging to their health. Even in the office, sound can be damaging as it can alter our heart rates, breathing patterns, stress levels and cognition.
A 2013 article on New York Eater showed that the city’s hottest restaurants had decibel levels that ranges from 76.7 dB to 106 dB. It’s probably safe to assume that several Kelowna and Okanagan eateries fall within that range too. For context, vacuum cleaners and busy residential roads are about 75 to 80 dB, while a power lawnmower is in the 100 dB range. Not exactly the kind of place where you want to be dining or working for hours on end!
Different businesses require different levels of privacy and yet sound remains the most overlooked aspect in most offices. Imagine being in a law office and overhearing intimate details of a case being discussed next door. Now imagine that an employee needs to speak to you about a personal matter and they too can be heard. You can see how this is a problem and could cost you business or personnel.
The first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem. Once you’ve spoken with your team and customers and have pinpointed the problem areas within your business, you can hire a company like Points West to come in and assess the space. From there, we can make recommendations for acoustic panels and sound masking devices that can help to increase your company’s productivity while reducing costs.
Ideally, the noise within your office should be in the 40 to 50 dB range, while meeting spaces and private offices 35 to 40 dB. Of course, this varies from business to business and the insulation and layout of your office may require a lower decibel level for maximum efficiency.