Poor acoustics can cause problems in even the best of workplaces. In spite of this, we're still pretty slapdash about the issue. Six out of ten of those who work in open-plan environments say they are affected by noise. But the problem can be solved!
Did you know that when you're interrupted in your work, it takes on average 23 minutes for you to regain full concentration? The recurring "ping" of a lift can be just as irritating as people talking in whispers on the other side of the room. Sometimes, we don't even have to be aware of the noise for it to cause stress, headaches and poor performance.
So, how can noise problems be resolved?
In larger workplaces, what is known as manipulated background noise is commonly used. A basic noise is introduced into the room through a loudspeaker, thereby blotting out any other disruptive sounds. It's even possible to transform the sound of a squeaking fan into a pleasant sea breeze. This is known as "sculpting" the sound.
In smaller spaces, the use of sound absorbers and screen walls is preferable. Designer Christian Halleröd has designed Prim and Oktav, two of the most efficient and stylish on the market, for Kinnarps.
But furniture can also act as soundproofing. Take for instance the supersmart table Silent Whisper, which designer Sigrid Strömgren designed for Materia. The special structure in the tabletop absorbs up to 10 decibels of sound.
It's important to realise, however, that no one workplace is identical to another. That's why Kinnarps is working, amongst other things, on a scientific method called Sabine's equation, which makes it possible to measure the reverberation time and correlate it with the size of the room. This indicates how many sound absorbers are required.