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Does Architecture Affect Acoustic Productivity?

Productivity and high productivity are issues that are deeply related to the work areas where we spend almost a third of our lives. In order to offer a proactive work environment, ergonomic needs are the most important element to be met. The factors that create a distraction and lack of concentration are unexpected and unwanted sounds, which seriously affect productivity and efficiency.

Noise control is handled with sound isolation, physical comfort is increased in the workplaces, and environments, where employees can enjoy, are created. Environments with poor acoustics where there are no noise control cause sound waves to interact with the space around them to produce low noise quality. While determining the locations of the departments in office planning, planning according to the level of noise they produce, as well as the relationship and level of proximity they establish with each other, is one of the main factors.

What are the problems that cause poor acoustics in work areas?

The first noticeable and common flaw is open-plan office designs. Workplaces prefer open-plan office designs because it increases teamwork, creativity, and communication, but there is a missing point in this design, which is the noise level. The balance between aesthetics and optimal functionality must be maintained in designs. As the noise level increases, distraction and stress also increase, which creates problems for areas where productivity is desired. Since the stress in business life can also reflect on the lives and health of employees, it is better understood how important acoustics is.

Another reason for poor architectural acoustics is the preference for high ceilings in work areas. Designed to feel open and spacious, workspaces with high ceilings resonate. Echo occurs when sound waves travel a certain distance and take a long time to reflect back. With the use of hard surfaces, echo becomes a big problem. Offices are plunged into chaos with the sound emanating from employees and equipment. In a chaotic environment, poor performance and lack of concentration are inevitable. Not receiving sound can be frustrating and affects mood. In addition, it creates a communication disorder among employees and prevents the exchange of ideas. Sound is one of the biggest factors affecting mood, productivity, and well-being. In-office dividing arrangements make a significant contribution to acoustic comfort by creating sound-absorbing surfaces. At the same time, it enriches the space designs by creating visual richness.

What are the solutions?

As a solution, sound-absorbing or acoustic panels are used to control poor acoustic design and reduce the duration of echoes. Quiet workspaces or meeting rooms need to be added to create an acoustic barrier to open-plan spaces. Quality sound insulation prevents outside noise. The most important issue here is the selected material. The higher the standards, the denser and thicker the materials used, and the more effective the acoustic application. Offices with predominantly hard, glossy surfaces cause a higher reverberation time as more sound will be reflected rather than absorbed. The main principle for acoustic comfort in office designs is the use of sound-absorbing materials that will prevent echoing and reproduction of sound. Absorbent and soft materials allow the free bouncing of sound waves and prevent echo.

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