We’re kicking off the new year with a new series titled Spaces that Work. It combines the hot topics of space planning and the latest research with real world solutions that we are talking about with our clients every day.
In this edition, we’re tackling an important one, Acoustical Privacy.
We’ve all seen the pendulum swing to open plan and despite some of the backlash (read the Harvard Business Review’s “Unintended Effects of the Open Office” if you haven’t), given the cost of real estate we don’t see it changing any time soon. From the MMQB to the Wall Street Journal, experts all agree the key to making an open plan that works is 1) offering a variety of alternate space options beyond the primary workspace (eg. huddle rooms, breakout areas, phone booths) 2) providing speech privacy and refuge. Below are some of our must-haves in addressing office acoustics when designing a space that works for the open plan.


Sound masking is a key tool to help solve the speech privacy problem (the ability of unintended listeners to understand another person’s conversation). Sound masking is the process of adding a low level, unobtrusive background sound to the a space to reduce the intelligibility of human speech and reduce noise distractions in that space.


Whether its for 1, 2, 4 or 6 people – offering office huddle spaces within an open environment for employees to take a quick call, meet or collaborate is critical. Furniture manufacturers like Knoll, Kimball, OFS, and Boss have responded to this need with a wide range of solutions. We’ve pictured a few of our favorites – but there are many more.


Perhaps the number one concern about office acoustics we’ve heard in the field (and from experience) is where do you go for a private call. A place to ‘drop in’, make a phone call, or a place to escape to reflect on a work task. These range from sound proofed booths to acoustical pods.


Sometimes a space just needs more. We have a range of acoustical coverings and products ( suspended panels and baffles, applied and wall mounted, drapery, freestanding, etc) designed to absorb excess noise throughout the office.

We’d be happy to talk further about your acoustical needs, provide mores specific product solution recommendations and/or more detailed information. You can reach out to your favorite Account Manager or call 401.683.3150.