In one of our previous articles, we presented several ways you can tweak your office policies or design to improve focus. Today we look at a more radical idea.
Are you familiar with the concept of "deep work"? As you can imagine, it has nothing to do with submersion or geographical depth. Long story short: it's the level of focus that allows you to work more efficiently, especially when learning challenging concepts or producing high-quality work. The term was coined by Cal Newport, a computer science professor at Georgetown University. In his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, he defines deep work as a state of complete, distraction-free concentration when your brain operates at its full potential.
What is deep work?
According to Newport, the ability to deep work is the ultimate edge in a modern workplace. The reason lies in our rapidly changing world, which, ironically, requires more deep work (e.g. absorbing knowledge) than ever before. However, at the same time, the world around us is more distracting than ever with emails, app notifications, social media, and countless other attention-grabbers. As Cal Newport writes, "The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy." Want to be more productive and earn more? Do more “deep work”, says Newport.
The internal motivation to deep work
There is also a deeper meaning to Newport's concept. Apart from the pragmatic motivation, deep work brings more joy and self-satisfaction to your workday. At the end of the day, we feel happier when we know we've just accomplished something significant. Think about how proud you were the last time you finished an important presentation on time or solved some tricky problem at work.
How to create habits that facilitate deep work
You can find a lot of guidelines and tips about how to incorporate time for deep work into your routine. For example, Newport suggests stepping away from social media and even taking more drastic measures, like going to the library for a few hours or checking into a hotel room for those extra-challenging tasks.
Other experts have further developed the idea of deep work and presented their own tips. Steven Kotler, the executive director of the Flow Research Collective, believes in cutting your work into smaller 90-minute chunks and starting each day with your most challenging task.
However, Sophie Leroy, an associate professor of management at the University of Washington, states that interruptions are inevitable and recommends accepting them to alleviate some of the negative emotions they cause. She even proposes a "Ready to Resume" strategy, which entails keeping a blank piece of paper at hand so that, at each interruption, you write down where you are at with the task so that you can shift your attention back to it more fluidly.
The Eudaimonia Machine – the blueprint for the deep work office?
All these tips could help employees plan their individual work better. However, let’s not forget that, oftentimes, the concentration problems stem from the way offices are set up. Many workspaces are just naturally prone to interruptions and distractions. So how can one create an office that genuinely fosters concentration? How would you imagine an office designed with the "deep work" concept in mind?
In Newport's book, David Dewane, an architecture professor, presents the architectural concept of the Eudaimonia Machine. The strange-sounding term is a Greek word for the highest state of "flourishing and prosperity." Dewane's revolutionary layout is meant to boost both. His concept envisions a floor plan with five main zones, without a corridor and hallway between them.
Every room in the Eudaimonia Machine leads to the next, effectively funneling an employee through the whole office and into its most critical room: an area for deep work with a set of several comfortable soundproof pods. What's important is that each next "level" has less noise than the previous one, assuring that the parts located at the back of Dewane's office are the most peaceful and quiet. Let's walk through each room and uncover how these rooms ought to trigger the appropriate cognitive state.
The office entrance is set up to showcase company work, clients, awards, certifications or other material that represents the organization. These displays function as inspiration for employees and visitors and motivate them as they enter the space. After all, who wouldn't want to add some of their best or more important work to the display?
The salon is something between a coffee shop and a collaborative hub: a comfy place to hang out, talk, and debate. The salon is critical because, as Dewane highlighted, his concept doesn't focus entirely on individual, focused work. The importance and potential of cooperation should not be underestimated. The Salon aims to optimize both these processes and separate them to make them more effective.
The library is the "hard drive" of the organization, containing books, albums, magazines, and documents produced here; essentially these are all the written resources that could be useful at work. Employees can easily grab materials required for their projects or dive into a learning resource, like a lecture, for inspiration. It's also designed to be a natural barrier between the chatty salon and the last two stages of the machine.
The office is the light work area. It's the place that most closely resembles a traditional open-plan office, including workstations, a conference room (or an acoustic pod if there’s not enough space for a full conference room). Here employees spend a big chunk of their time completing less demanding tasks, like answering emails and other administrative work. Newport calls those activities "shallow" work, noting at the same time the importance of handling all the necessities of a business fluently and efficiently.
Deep Work Chambers
Here is where all the magic happens. At the last stage, an employee walks into one of the "deep work chambers," effectively soundproofed, one-person booths. They are fully equipped with all office necessities (tabletop, proper ventilation, LAN, and USB connections), but are peaceful and isolated enough for focus and workflow, even up to several hours. Not so long ago, designing and implementing a space like this would be both challenging and costly. Fortunately, now with all acoustic pods and soundproof office booths on the market, it's easier than ever to provide a place of solitude for deep work.
“Ridiculous” or “visionary”?
It's not surprising that such a radical idea stirred up some controversy and gained varied feedback (from “ridiculous” or a "great way for an architect to burn someone else's money" to "David is definitely a visionary." The spectrum of feedback can be found here). Bearing in mind that such a layout isn’t necessarily easy to implement or may not apply to every organization, we must admit we are intrigued by the idea. One of the most significant advantages of this floor plan is that it distinguishes the different types of work we perform every day and creates a proper zone for each one. Therefore, every person can change locations based on the task they want to focus on—and feel comfortable doing so.
Due to the Eudaimonia Machine’s limitations, it may not be a worldwide phenomenon anytime soon (although it has already gained some traction in the United States), but it shows that it may be worth rethinking office design and including more zone-oriented concepts. So, what's your opinion? Would you give Eudaimonia Machine a try?
Hybrid work has led to a rise in video calls worldwide. We don't have to be at one particular spot to connect with team members, business partners, and clients. Despite more flexibility, many employees still work in open-plan offices that are not acoustically optimized, and therefore, aren't sufficient anymore. When companies created open-plan offices, they had teamwork and collaboration in mind and didn't even take into account that one day their team members might not even be in the same building, as it is in our case now. More video calls require offices to be restructured to meet the needs.
The Change of Offices Due to Hybrid Work
The daily work routine has taken a whole new turn for most entrepreneurs in the last few months. We have become newly aware of the importance of personal communication. The necessary home office access was established, video conferencing on various platforms has become common, webinars and online training are replacing the workshops and live training sessions initially planned for this year.
Rapid familiarization with new areas was a must, and fundamental rethinking, especially in dealing with the medium of video calls. More and more companies are just becoming aware that it is not enough to have video conferencing running. Instead, it is important how it runs and not to disturb colleagues back in the office. So, with the rise of hybrid work and employees having the choice if they want to work in the office or from home, we can also see an increase in: video conferences, video calls and phone calls. Therefore, the noise also increases.
The office becomes the place for people to work on concepts and share ideas, either in person or virtually. Some people sit together at a conference table in the office. Others are present via a video call. The problem: The chatting noise will severely disturb everybody not involved in a current meeting or call. This is just adding to keyword typing, printers, coffee machines.
3 Tips to Video Calls Friendly Office
It's time for companies to find solutions and to create the ideal atmosphere for video calls. With these three easy-to-implement tips around acoustic solutions and interior, you will be able to provide the calm environment that is necessary to work efficiently. Being well-prepared is half the battle!
Soundproof Pods for More Privacy in Your office
Prepare dedicated acoustic pods for employees to have video calls. Coming in different sizes and variants, you can choose if you require a smaller pod for 1-on-1 video calls or bigger pods for up to six people for a whole video conference. Connecting to your Wi-Fi or LAN and having an integrated socket to charge your laptop makes it easy for everyone using the pod to connect to the company's systems and technology. With a well-thought-out ventilation system, everybody keeps a cool head, even when the meeting takes a bit longer again.
Install Acoustic Panels Inside Conference Rooms
There are many options to put up acoustic panels. They will limit reverberation and improve the acoustic comfort of a room because the sound is not bouncing around. Proper acoustics makes your voice more clear and understandable to the person you’re talking to. Sometimes companies spend a fortune to buy high-tech conference equipment, only to see that it won’t provide excellent sound quality without proper acoustics in a room itself.
Respect Other People’s Needs for Privacy and Silence
Acoustic solutions can help optimize the environment for people in a video conference and those working at their tasks simultaneously. What they cannot do is automatically magically conjure up mutual consideration for each other's needs. Therefore, remind your employees of video call etiquette. This way, all team members should feel confident that they can work in decent privacy and silence.
Optimize Offices With Acoustic Solutions
The number of video calls will only increase further. Employees came to learn the advantages of hybrid work and will make use of it. In offices that offer the right amount of acoustic solutions, employees can work closely, be more productive, and think outside the box, making communication with more departments necessary. Optimizing your office with acoustic solutions like soundproof pods and sound absorbers will make your employees happier and healthier.
What a year it was! Time goes by so fast that sometimes it’s really easy to forget some of the changes and highlights. But the beginning of a year is always a great moment to look back and pick up some best memories and achievements that shaped our last 12 months. So, here are the most groundbreaking events from 2021 we will remember.
Expanded Acoustic Pods offer (January)
For two years now, we have been living in a unique workspace experiment that rapidly changes office spaces’ role. Implementation of the hybrid office model has brought several significant challenges to companies. It made them realize that they need more flexible office tools. And that they don't need conference rooms to host 20 people.
That's why we expanded our Space family. At the beginning of last year, we enlarged our offer with Space S and Space L Double models dedicated to video conferences. Additionally, we launched Space XL – the most spacious acoustic pod in our offer. This full-size sound-insulating room will comfortably host even seven people. We improved the functionality of all our acoustic pods to the extent that might surprise you. You can now easily rearrange your office by moving the pods wherever you like, thanks to casters hidden in its floor (and you only need two people to do that).
New Acoustic Lighting category in our offer (March)
As the proper lighting and acoustic comfort are two main factors that improve office wellbeing, why not combine them in one product? Well, to be precise in four products that altogether make our new category. Mist, Bell, Loop, and Line offer pioneering acoustic performance and exceptional, everlasting design. They will provide a guiding light to tranquility at your office. We are happy to see that they've already earned clients' appreciation and branch recognition (Mist floor lamp was chosen as one of the best Polish products at Lodz Design Festival).
Five years anniversary (August)
In just five years, we came a long way from a garage where we produced first orders to a tight-knit team of 100 specialists, a sales chain of 500 distributors, and more than 3600 reshaped offices worldwide. That accomplishment required a proper celebration. Our 5-year jubilee took place in Galew, and it was a day (and night) to remember with a whole pack of entertainments. The highlight of the show was the competition in making graffiti on our acoustic pods, because hey, why not?
Trade show tour (September - November)
In 2020 we planned to participate in a series of trade shows and exhibitions for the first time. Then in March, when we were in the middle of preparations for the Workspace Expo in Paris... well, you know what happened. However, all is not lost that is delayed. Fortunately, in 2021 events were resumed, and we made sure that we wouldn't miss any. From Copenhagen and Amsterdam to Milan, Paris, and London, we were delighted to finally meet with our clients and see them interacting with our products. Next year we will travel with #GoodWorkspaceEnergy even further as we plan to finally reach NeoCon (and this time, nothing is going to stop us, hopefully).
Enlarging our Galew Factory
We're only five years old, but we are growing so fast that we decided to make our home more spacious and comfortable. That's why in October we started an expansion process, building a brand new production hall in Galew. It will make our home approx. two times larger reaching 6000m2. That's plenty of space to create the best-in-market soundproof office pods and sound absorbers! Inside, we will also locate our new R&D to develop and test acoustic solutions in an even more advanced way, as well as a new showroom to host our clients comfortably. We can't wait to see it all happen, and we are counting days to the housewarming party in May.
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Without privacy, some people feel drained and find themselves without the energy and space they need to think freely and creatively.
It’s 3 P.M. and you still haven’t been able to regain your focus after lunch. You have multiple tabs open, the end-of-month report on your mind, coworkers chatting nearby, and a new Slack notification every few minutes. Sure, the GIF on Slack gives you a laugh and the camaraderie of the office makes work lively, but the bustle keeps you distracted.
We’re all overly familiar with distraction these days. It’s a daily struggle to focus on the many and diverse tasks we set out for ourselves. It’s probably no surprise then that scientific evidence disproves the so-called “multitasking myth”: it’s false that our brains can effectively focus on two or more tasks at once. However we try to convince ourselves that “Yes, we absolutely can multitask!” it is actually impossible for 97.5 percent of us. So how can we overcome distraction and harness the power of focused work? How do we optimize our brain’s architecture rather than work against it? In this article, we’ll cover a few ways you and your team can reclaim your time and attention for a more healthy, creative work life.
How to Achieve Healthier, More Creative Work
Studies show that productivity and efficiency increase when people focus on one task at a time. This is because it takes our brains time to gauge new information and engage with that information each time we switch tasks or try to refocus after getting distracted. And while we certainly cannot claim to be rid of distraction all the time, a few company policies and a bit of creative office design can help get everyone in the groove of focused work.
1. Provide Opportunities for Privacy and Quiet
Teams consist of not only different roles and responsibilities, but also many personalities that require varying environments for optimal well-being and productivity. When team members can leverage their strengths rather than battle their weaknesses, each person can be more focused and engaged in their role. Therefore, it’s important to recognize that not everyone works in the same way. While some people feel energized by the hustle and bustle of an office, others require peace and isolation. Without privacy, some people feel drained and find themselves without the energy and space they need to think freely and creatively. An office designed with retreats that offer solitude and quiet can accommodate a wider range of work styles. Leverage soundproof pods, like our Space M pod, or an acoustic privacy screen, like Cone, to give people the opportunity to concentrate more deeply, even in open office plans. Privacy and peace help the full range of personalities among us maintain the energy and creativity needed to produce excellent and innovative work.
If your team sometimes works from home, carpets, a room divider, books, curtains and other objects in the room can all help with sound absorption.
2. Add Flexibility to the (Home) Office
According to Pew Research, even those who have been able to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic face distraction. Ambient noise, including other family members on remote work or school calls, add to all the regular digital distractions. Perhaps even more than in an office, remote workers need to multitask to make it through the day. If your team sometimes works from home, carpets, a room divider, books, curtains and other objects in the room can all help with sound absorption. Placing a few items in the workspace can improve the acoustics of the room to reduce distractions from ambient noise and improve sound on conference and video calls.
Back in the office, Wall, a flexible acoustic panel, offers sound reduction, privacy, and separation when and where you need it most. Sound absorbers and privacy screens come in a variety of styles to match your office and some are even easy to install or light enough to move on the fly, so teams can nimbly react to whatever their needs are at any given moment.
3. Set Quiet Hours and Away Messages
Anyone glued to their computer screen or smartphone during the workday knows the impulsive urge to check email. The expectation for immediate, synchronous communication has only grown with technology’s firm grip on our day-to-day activities. And while messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams claim to reduce email, they also add pressure for people to instantaneously respond to inquiries and messages. Developing simple company policies that reduce this pressure can help the entire office produce their most innovative and creative work.
For example, you can designate a time — even two hours a day — when the entire company agrees to not send emails, schedule meetings, or drop by colleagues’ desks. Set this as a recommendation and urge management to lead by example to show employees it really is OK to work without the distraction of email and messenger.
If setting a company-wide “quiet hours” proves too challenging because of varying schedules or because you work across time zones, you can also encourage people to set away messages on the days and times that suit them. This gives employees the flexibility to choose when they focus best and empower them to come back to emails and messages later, guilt-free.
Making collaboration enjoyable and a time in which all team members are heard can make all the difference to a productive and creative collaborative session.
4. Block Calendar Time for Deep Work
Georgetown University professor Cal Newport developed “deep work” as a strategy for intensive, distraction-free concentration that aims to produce our most innovative and valuable work. Although Newport recommends deep work every workday, that’s not realistic for most people. However, blocking out time on your calendar even once a week can help you work on your most cognitively demanding projects with vigor and, most importantly, without distractions. Scheduling the time, like you would any other meeting, both gives you a purposeful window to work on the task but also signals to colleagues that you’re not available for impromptu meetings, messages, or other distractions.
5. Make Collaboration Joyful
Finally, while reducing distractions in the workplace is key to creative work, collaboration is equally as important and fruitful for innovation and productivity. So far, we’ve talked mostly about how to combat the myth of multitasking and make it easier for individuals to focus on one task at a time. But what about when teams do come together? Making collaboration enjoyable and a time in which all team members are heard can make all the difference to a productive and creative collaborative session. Making sure the spaces we gather serve collaboration in the best ways is key. For example, reducing the reverberation time in a conference room improves speech intelligibility and reduces overall office noise. Techland, a gaming company in Wrocław, used a combination of Mute Blocks and Walls to improve the acoustics of their conference rooms and encourage better team collaboration experiences. You could also use a large, standalone meeting pod, like our Space L or Space XL pods, as a conference room that is specially designed with optimal acoustics, ventilation and lighting in mind. This is especially helpful in today’s offices, when some team members might tune in via conference or video call. Better intelligibility helps everyone feel both heard and included in collaborative team meetings and workshops.
Offices offer people an opportunity to socialize, collaborate, and exchange ideas. But giving people a respite from distractions and bustle helps them re-energize and focus when they need it most. A productive and healthy work environment that offers opportunities for peace and concentration not only reduces stress, but it also enables people with varying needs and styles to work in the ways that empower them to produce their best work. Using a combination of smart and empathetic communication policies and creative office design, individual contributors, teams, and an entire company can pursue their most ambitious endeavors.
Want a more creative and productive office space? Find out how Mute can help →
The idea of an open-plan office was quite noble: break down the walls and create an environment for people to communicate and exchange ideas. It was an attempt to foster cooperation and collaboration, to forget about a company's strict hierarchy. But what does the open-plan office look like in practice? Well, according to extensive research and employee opinion, it doesn’t look good. Let's take a closer look at the history of the open-plan office and explore how to make them better spaces for everyday work.
The Open Office Origin Story
Surprisingly, the concept of an open-plan office is older than we all think. The first open-plan office was designed in 1906 by Frank Lloyd Wright, undoubtedly one of the most important and famous architects of twentieth century, known for designing the Fallingwater House in Pennsylvania and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. When he designed the Larkin Administration Building, he wanted to imitate a factory floor, with one big, main hall where all the work is done.
However, the concept was not widely used and the open-plan area mainly housed secretaries and other administrative staff. If you’ve watched the T.V. series “Mad Men,” you probably remember what the office of the Sterling Cooper Agency looked like. It had two main areas: a big open room filled with secretaries' desks and the surrounding private (often opulent) offices of executives and senior employees like the main character, Don Draper.
Interior of Larkin Administration Building, reimagined
Source: Frank Lloyd Wright: The Lost Works
The Open-Plan Layout: German Roots
The open-plan office as we know it today was conceived in Germany and is called Bürolandschaft. The concept was to organize an office space without evident hierarchism (meant to reflect the post-war egalitarian trend in German Society). Putting all employees in the same shared space was meant to show that everyone is equally important and that regular employees were just as substantial as the company’s leaders.
The architects of Bürolandschaft also wanted to create a workplace where employees could communicate and cooperate more easily. The removal of solid barriers and walls was meant to enable people to work better as a team. For the same reason, architects replaced the rows of desks with the smaller, organic, and irregular groupings of workspaces. At a glance, it seemed as if the workspaces were randomly placed, but in fact, the location of every desk cluster was calculated and based on work paths and roles within the organization.
Why Did the Open-plan Office Become so Popular?
The popularity of open-plan offices rose in 2005, when Google reinvented their HQ. Since then, it has become a model for other companies. Businesses wanted to be (or at least appear to be) as innovative as Google, so they did away with cubicles and redesigned their offices to match the open-plan concept. In 2015, Facebook also followed this trend and built the world’s largest open-plan floor that holds 2,800 employees on a 10-acre campus.
Googleplex by Clive Wilkinson Architects, 2005
Googleplex by Clive Wilkinson Architects, 2005
The Open-Plan Office: A Drop in Communication
Thanks to this recent—and long-lasting—trend, most of us currently work in open-plan offices. In 2014, 70 percent of companies had an open floor plan, according to a survey by the International Facility Management Association. Do we enjoy it? Unfortunately, plenty of employees struggle with common and well-known open-office flaws: a lack of privacy, distractions, and difficulties with communication. A Queensland University of Technology study showed that 90 percent of employees working in offices with an open floor plan experienced increased stress levels and higher blood pressure. In the long term, open-plan offices can also cause burnouts, resignations, and higher turnover rates for companies.
What’s more, two different surveys performed in the UK and the US showed that open-plan office implementation actually caused a drop in face-to-face communication by approximately 70 percent and an increase in email and electronic messaging by between 22 and 50 percent. Ironically, the open office’s ambition to foster communication led to quite the opposite.
Why did that happen? One of most popular theories says that people working inside an open-plan office create a “fourth wall” for themselves, like an actor separating himself from his audience. It’s an easy way to stave off distractions and focus on the job. But where does it lead? If someone seems to be working intensely while wearing their headphones, we prefer to not interrupt him. Instead, we often decide to send him an email or a message. And from there, the number of notifications only grows.
Moreover, we have to remember that building a "fourth wall" is a significant mental effort that can result in increased stress, errors, and frustration. As one Fast Company writer has explained, "When employees can't concentrate on their work, their desire to interact and collaborate with others is reduced."
The Open-Plan Office: A Lack of Privacy
Although Mark Zuckerberg is famously known for having a desk among his Facebook employees, he is also known for spending most of his time working alone in a conference room. Perhaps he is among the 43 percent of workers for whom a lack of privacy is at the top of the list of problems in the open-plan office. Feeling that we are observed and heard prevents us from expressing our thoughts freely, creates problems when we need to take or make phone calls, and hinders productivity, especially for introverted people. The same survey, conducted by tech PR firm Bospar, showed that 76 percent of workers do not recommend open-plan offices.
We can only expect these numbers to rise, as open-plan offices become smaller and more overcrowded. Between 2010 and 2017, the average space per person shrank 33 percent, from 225 to 150 square feet. That means people have less space to themselves and are surrounded by more distractions.
But maybe the biggest issue with the concept that all workers should share one, giant room is that companies don't appreciate the diversity of their employees’ roles and work preferences. Talent diversity can be a company's biggest asset, but only if it makes an extra effort to ask how it can support all employees and meet their individual needs. Providing each employee with the same work environment, whether a copywriter or an accountant, does not empower them to do their best work.
Airbnb Office in Dublin
Facebook HQ in Pittsburgh
Open Offices: When Are They Effective?
Is there any context in which an open-plan office is effective? Well, some studies have shown that an open office can work.
According to research performed by Humanyze, open offices are great at encouraging interaction within teams that are creating new products or services. But they are terrible for execution-based tasks, like writing code or performing calculations. In other words, the open-plan concept is great for companies coming up with new ideas, but disastrous for those implementing the ideas. Bearing in mind that both types of teams exist in most organizations, an office that offers a mixed layout, with varied zones designed for different kinds of tasks, might be a suitable solution. How can you design this kind of space? We’ll give you all the advice you need in the next part of this article.
Have you ever wondered what the difference is between sound frequency and sound level? Do you know what the Lombard effect is? If you don’t have a clue, don’t worry, because today we’re carrying on with our Jargon Buster series.
In the last article, we broke down lighting industry jargon. This time, we’re talking about six of the most common terms used in acoustics. As always, we promise to avoid the overly complex, scientific mumbo-jumbo. Let’s start!
What is sound itself? Sound is a variation in air pressure that ears can detect. A sound source (for example, your mouth while speaking) emits air pressure changes that travel as a sound wave at a speed of approximately 340 meters per second. When energy from the sound source reaches the eardrum, sensitive bones within it vibrate, and the auditory nerve signals to the brain that we’re hearing something.
Did you know?
Sound waves travel much faster in water than they do in air. Sound travels 4.3 times faster in water than it does in air of the same temperature. That’s why water animals, like dolphins, can communicate over such long distances (up to 10 kilometers).
dB, or decibel, is the unit of measurement for sound pressure. It refers to what we perceive as “loudness.” So, when acoustics professionals talk about how “loud” a room is, they are referring to its decibel level. What’s most important to know here is that sound pressure isn’t measured on a linear scale because an ear’s reaction to changes in sound energy is not linear.
For example, in very quiet surroundings, even a tiny change in sound pressure is noticeable and enables us to hear a change in loudness. In a very noisy space, on the other hand, we need to increase a sound’s energy level much more to detect the difference. That’s why a decibel scale is not linear; it better mirrors the function and characteristics of our ears. Here’s another example: to increase the sound level by 10dB—from 40dB (a small refrigerator) to 50db (an average conversation) — we need 10 times more sound energy. A 10dB increase corresponds to a doubling of loudness.
Did you know?
The term “decibel” is derived from the name of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone.
When a sound wave strikes a hard surface, like concrete or glass, it is reflected and gradually loses its energy. This results in an effect called reverberation. Reverberation time is the length of time that it takes for a sound to reach complete silence after its initiation.
In rooms with excessive reverberation, we often feel uncomfortable, especially during longer conversations. Give it a try. How does a 4-way conversation in a small bathroom sound after a while? You will quickly notice that the words you hear are unclear and seem too loud. That is because different sound waves mix together as they are reflected by the hard materials in the room. Sometimes, to be heard better, you instinctively raise your voice, but it only makes things worse.
To prevent that effect and to communicate more clearly, you can make sure that office spaces, like conference rooms and rooms dedicated to making video calls, have short reverberation times.
Did you know?
The optimal reverberation time depends on the intended use of a room. For a conference room, it is recommended to keep the reverberation time between 0.5 and 1.0 seconds. In open spaces, the reverberation time should be lower, between 0.4 and 0.6 seconds, because there are more potential sound sources. Keeping the reverberation time in a big conference room too low, however, can also lead to some acoustic problems. For example, those in the back of a room might struggle to hear a speaker at the front.
Noise is a general term to describe all unwanted, unnecessary or disruptive sounds, such as background chatter, alarms, telephone conversations, buzzing electronic devices and sounds from the street. Being in a noisy environment can reduce concentration, increase workplace risks and, in the long run, even create health problems.
Did you know?
The energy of an acoustic wave can be absorbed, reflected, or transmitted. The extent to which the energy is absorbed, reflected, or transmitted depends on the barrier’s material composition. Hard surfaces (like concrete or glass) reflect acoustic energy, whereas porous materials will absorb most of it. To reduce the noise level, you have to absorb as much sound energy as possible by using specially designed porous materials.
Sound absorption is the ability of a given material to partially block the energy of a sound wave and turn it into unnoticeable thermal energy. Sound absorption is used mostly in products dedicated to limiting the reverberation time inside a room. By placing sound absorbing materials on walls, ceilings or in corners you can make your room quieter and cozier.
Absorption is measured according to the ISO 354 norm and expressed as the sound absorption coefficient αw, with a value between 0 (total reflection) and 1 (total absorption), and corresponding classes A–E. Class A represents the highest quality and E, the lowest:
Did you know?
Five of our products have Class A sound absorption properties, which means these products offer top-quality sound absorption that effectively reduces reverberations that could cause distraction:
To put it simply, sound attenuation describes a reduction in sound volume. A product that supports sound attenuation, therefore, helps reduce the energy of a sound wave as it travels through a particular space (for example, the voice of a chatty colleague from another department in your open-plan office). The rule is simple: the more you reduce the sound in different parts of the space, the more (acoustically) comfortable the space is. This comfort supports productivity because it can reduce noise and distraction. Acoustic products like walls and partitions provide high-quality sound attenuation. Instead of absorbing sound, they capture it, acting as acoustic barriers between different areas of the room.
Did you know?
We offer a wide range of products that support sound attenuation:
The Lombard effect describes our tendency to increase the volume of our voice in a loud environment. We do so because we think that we will become more audible to others. What’s interesting is that the change occurs in both loudness and other acoustic features like pitch rate and syllable duration.
Did you know?
Research on birds and monkeys has demonstrated that the effect also occurs in the animal kingdom.
Now that you know the acoustics essentials find out how to improve office acoustics with these Mute products. Or check out our article, “Well-Being Boosters: 4 Reasons to Improve the Acoustics in Your Office”, to see how acoustic solutions can influence your team’s well-being and productivity.