1) Buildings with daylighting are incompatible with
With green initiatives leading to more daylighting and
window area in workplaces, it is widely believed that effective acoustics are not possible in these buildings because the
glazed surfaces take away potential areas for sound absorption. However, the development of sustainable acoustics material has made it possible to have both.
“More and more products are available all the time that
2) Larger spaces provide much better speech privacy.
meet these requirements,” says Bill Holaday, Principal
Consultant in Baltimore. “Architects are very sensitive to
these issues and often make the efforts themselves to specify
new products of this type.”
Ceiling tiles and carpeting are less invasive ways to absorb
sound during a retrofit, and there are a variety of options that
include recycled content. If you have extensive daylighting in
your building, Plexiglas sound absorbers can be placed on win-
dows while still allowing sunlight through them. Suspending
acoustical clouds over a workspace can also absorb sound.
Subjectivity is a major factor to consider with acoustics. “How
individuals hear and perceive things can be very subjective, meaning what one office employee considers ‘annoying’ and ‘
unworkable’ may be completely bearable for another,” Schmitt explains.
This is especially true when considering larger workspaces.
While it might seem like a larger space would prevent
those nearby from hearing conversations, increasing the size
of a workspace has almost no impact on speech privacy. The
change in sound from outside the workspace by doubling its
area is almost unnoticeable.
Yet acoustics is difficult to grasp because it is not always
intuitive. You can’t necessarily see sound, so it can be hard
to detect problematic areas or know the root of a suboptimal
sound issue. If inadequately handled, sound problems can
become even worse than they previously were.
“Acoustics is generally viewed as unimportant or where
FMs can put more money towards it later if it is a problem
and the budget allows,” says Andrew Schmitt, Associate
Designer at Convergence Technologies Design Group in
Phoenix. “In any project, we try to convey the importance
of acoustics and how it can truly affect a project, especially
in the markets of education, healthcare and commercial
Addressing acoustical issues can make a big difference
in workplace productivity. Three acoustical designers at
Convergence Technologies Design Group in Baltimore and
Phoenix tackle some of the misconceptions about acoustics
that you can easily avoid.
Of all the factors that affect workplace productivity, one of the most frustrating can be improper acoustics.
Sound annoyance in the office poses
some of the most distracting problems
and important areas for improvement
Debunking 6 Myths
of Workplace Acoustics
Misconceptions about sound design leave workplaces
with poor acoustics
ARMSTRONG CEILING SYSTEMS