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By Marianne Wind, expert acoustics at Ahrend

After the indoor climate, the acoustics of workplaces is second on the list of office workers’ complaints, according to research by Leesman. Everyone knows that acoustic are important in open office spaces; even so, I see this aspect being too rarely taken into consideration when designing an interior.

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Stress due to noise

A noisy office causes stress symptoms such as fatigue, high blood pressure and sleeping problems. Employees shut themselves off from their environment and are less content if there is a lot of noise at work. Noise also increases the likelihood of error, especially during complex tasks. Happily, the same applies the other way around. When the level of acoustic comfort is appropriate for the activities, it leads to increased productivity, a reduced likelihood of error, creativity, efficiency and cooperation, happier employees and reduced absence through sickness.

Noise pollution

I would encourage always taking noise pollution and acoustics into account when designing work environments. Furthermore, do it in advance. In places where insufficient attention has been paid to acoustic principles and where complaints occur, the acoustics must be examined and dealt with. It may be more difficult to make changes then. Placing a space-in-space box is a relatively simple solution in that case.
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‘The acoustics of workplaces is second on the list of office workers’ complaints.’
Leesman Index
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Acoustic principles

Changing the acoustics of a space retrospectively is often more costly than integrating the acoustic principles into the interior design. Furthermore, the modifications do not always improve the appearance of a space, and extra sound dampening takes up extra space. An initial investment in acoustic comfort has many advantages in the long term.

Spaces can, of course, change over the course of time. For example, we are now moving towards ‘hybrid working’ as a result of Covid-19. This transition can influence the acoustics. Therefore, you should always take acoustics into account when modifying a workspace in order to prevent incurring additional costs and hassle later on.
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Colour portrait of Marianne Wind

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