A loud environment also increases the stress level of many employees
The health and well-being of office workers influence their productivity - this has been the subject of much research. Staff costs, including salaries and benefits, make up a large part of a company's operating costs. So anything that improves productivity also has a positive financial impact on an employer.
At the same time, most employees work in open-plan offices, which are not very popular, to say at least. 76 % of respondents said that they "hate" open offices. A loud environment also increases the stress level of many employees. As a result, many employees either quit their job or have a burn-out.
Common noises that decrease the well-being of teams
People can only tolerate noise for a certain amount of time before it becomes annoying and bothers them. Many workers work without realizing that noise in the office is affecting their productivity. Some sources of noise are:
→ Excessive background noise from mechanical and technical operations in the office, such as air conditioners, fans, printers, copiers, and even just typing on the keyboard.
→ Loud conversations, laughter, and the ringing of telephones.
→ Activity noises which are caused by loud footsteps, chat notifications, swearing because the PC doesn't want to do what the employee wants it to do.
→ Outside noises such as road traffic, sirens, trains, and planes. Of course, a certain amount of external noise is completely normal. But too much noise can interfere with concentration and productivity.
→ Use of speakers during a phone call.
When you reduce noise levels, you create a more pleasant environment for employees and customers alike.
4 Benefits of Acoustic Solutions
With all this noise around you, you need to find ways to reduce it to be able to work and deliver convincing results. Acoustic solutions can do a lot for you in the office. We will show you how to reach your acoustic goals.
1. You reduce stress and improve well-being
Open Office noise is one of the most critical factors that stress people at work. A constant information overload, non-stop noise, distractions – all of those points are highly stressful for employees. Moreover, it affects our productivity, stressing us even more. And if the stress is terrible on a day in the office, it can sometimes lead to quarrels and tensions between colleagues.
65% of 1000 UK-based office workers reported in a survey that noise in their workplace significantly impacted their ability to work in an accurate and timely manner. 44 % even stated that the noise affected their overall well-being. 40 % of them felt stressed due to those circumstances.
Noisy environments are one of the biggest complaints about workplaces. A lot of background noise increases stress by interfering with general hearing and concentration. When you reduce noise levels, you create a more pleasant environment for employees and customers alike. By placing some sound-attenuating walls and separators between desks, you can lower the level of noise. You can reach an even higher sound absorption in rooms and open space offices by using acoustic lamps, panels, or prints on the walls. And if you need absolute silence: Soundproof pods can be acoustic shelters. Use them any time you want to escape constant noise and distractions.
2. You provide privacy
A lack of privacy can be stressful, too. In an open space office, everyone sees how we work and what we are doing right at that moment. Hearing our colleagues’ conversations makes us less productive, tires us, and affects our mood. It's in our nature to feel comfortable only when we have some basic level of privacy. That's why the privacy issue is the biggest issue of open spaces. According to a survey performed in 2018 in the USA, almost 48% of respondents point it out as a significant problem.
Ease of communication is one of the main benefits of an open-plan office. Yet, it is sometimes necessary for staff to have private conversations. Acoustic panels or pods muffle sound and allow employees to have conversations without being overheard.
With acoustic screens like Wall, you can separate space, keep teams together and absorb the noise around them and their noise just as much, so they don't disturb other teams around them. Pods will provide solutions with even more options. Move away from everyone to have a quick phone call in Space S or have an effective 1-on-1 in one of our bigger pods.
3. You improve productivity
Plenty of researches show that the easiest way to stay productive is to get rid of distractions and focused only on one thing at a time. However, it isn't easy:
→ 52 % of respondents say they're distracted 1-20 per cent of the time during a workday
→ 43 % say they're distracted 21-75+ percent of the time
→ 5% say they're never distracted
Lower productivity is often associated with high noise levels because of the increased risk of distractions. Improving acoustics makes it easier for employees to concentrate, make and receive calls, and hold conversations at a comfortable volume without distracting other colleagues.
Using our soundproof pod Space M will fight all distractions. It creates spaces for individual-focused work – Quiet Zones. Also, it has been proven that even a simple change of surroundings could be a good thing to boost your creativity. That's why you should provide a variety of spaces for your employees.
4. You improve the soundscape and facilitate communication.
Acoustic solutions absorb unwanted sounds such as echoes and noise from the environment and make other sounds clearer. As a result, people in open-plan offices, restaurants, or hotel lobbies can hear and understand each other better.
A 2018 Harvard Business School study found that open-plan offices lead to a 70% decrease in face-to-face communication (Bernstein & Turban, 2018). That's because even if we talk to each other in an open space, we are not facing each other. Therefore, open office conversations are often "too casual", shallow and quick. Open office is maybe great for convenient chat, but there is a lot more to talk about at work. More serious, deeper conversations require a level of privacy that only a quiet environment can give you. That way, you can have eye-to-eye conversation without any distractions because the laptop battery is empty or the connection is low.
In that case, you need more than acoustic screens like our Wall or Cone , but a pod that provides enough space for meetings and small conferences. Using Space L or Space XL will provide quiet surroundings in an open space office. Plus, with the constant air flow you won't risk a headache and tiredness.
When you’re creating something new, it’s good to ask yourself if you are adding something interesting to the surroundings without taking too much from the environment.
– Maja Ganszyniec
Meet the figure behind our Mist family, a virtuoso of product and furniture design - Maja Ganszyniec from Studio Ganszyniec. Maja is a designer with a comprehensive approach to the design process, graduated from Design Product at Royal College of Art and Interior Architecture on Cracow Academy of Fine Arts.
Over the last ten years she has been working across Europe on projects for leading brands such as: IKEA, Leroy Merlin, Amica, Mothercare, Orange, Dupont, Camper, Comforty, PayPass, Touchideas and Bellamy. Her works had been shown on recognised exhibitions in Milan, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, and published by Domus, Icon, Abitare and Wallpaper Magazines.
Mute: The past years have been busy for you. You’ve been working on few collections for IKEA, developing your own brand and delivering projects for your long-term clients. What was the most interesting and inspiring aspect of creating Mist lamps? How do they complete your work?
Maja Ganszyniec: It’s my first project that combines two very interesting sides – acoustics and light. Until now my projects mainly focused on more classical interior design elements. However, the concept of acoustic comfort was always very close and personal to me, because noise reduction becomes a more and more challenging issue, mostly in open space offices.
M: Do you have a theory why?
MG: Partly because open space concept became so popular and has been implemented almost in every bigger office. The general idea of open plan office, developed in 50s in Germany, was meant to foster communication within the company. But lately it went the other way around. Several studies discovered that open office plan decreases number of face-to-face interactions between employees. Plenty of workers sit in a headphones or in conference rooms. It’s simply because open offices are full of noise and people observe on a daily basis that it has a negative impact on their work. On top of that people’s work is becoming more complicated, requiring more time for a focused work. Recently I’ve observed many new solutions for noise reduction in business spaces and I’m happy to add something innovative to this emerging trend.
M: So why did you find designing the acoustic lighting an interesting project if there are so many solutions already on the market?
MG: In my opinion, they are effective, yet very similar to each other. From an aesthetic point of view, they often lack of something unique that could make them an acoustic tool and also a piece of decoration. To me, it was a chance to create one of the first decorative acoustic products that could look great in modern-designed offices, in fancy restaurants, or a glamorous hotel.
M: So, the goal was to create something unique but also practical and useful?
MG: I believe that in modern interior design, every inch and square meter has to be used effectively. I’ve observed that in some offices plenty of space is taken by acoustic products with only one function. In my opinion, the era of one-function products is coming to an end as we have less and less space, and we’ve got to make the most of it. That is why the Mist Lamp is multifunctional: sound absorber, space divider, and lamp.
M: Only three functions, nothing more? :)
MG: On top of it, there is an inductive charger or USB A+C port on the surface of every Mist lamp, so we can call it a device charger as well.
M: What’s behind all these functions? What was your big idea?
MG: I wanted to create something that could be a practical space divider but with some subtlety to it. That’s why the context of light is so important. Most of these kinds of products are just walls. I’ve observed that every traditional space divider makes a place a little bit darker and more gloomy. I chose a delicately transparent fabric because I wanted to allow the light to shine through and penetrate the room. During the day, semi-transparent curtains ensure the lamp’s translucency, letting in the sun. After dark, a pleated curtain ensures a comforting, understated light that works beautifully in every surrounding, creating a comfortable atmosphere. On top of that, thanks to the fabric we’ve used, MIST creates a magical visual effect – when you turn on the light, it seems like the top cover of the lamp is floating gently in the air.
M: What was the main technical challenge with creating the product?
MG: The hardest part was to find a proper solution to make it look soft and transparent and, at the same time to obtain a high level of blocking and sound-absorbing quality. With cooperation with Mute’s product technologists, we’ve done that using invisible wall made of plexiglass that also creates acoustic cavities on both sides of the product. Part of the soundwaves are “caught inside,” and because of that, the lamp limits reverberation.
MG: Finally, what are the key features of well-designed products, in your opinion?
M: Lovability :) Shape, function, ease of use. And, of course, sustainability. When you think about it, the world doesn’t necessarily need more chairs or lamps. So, when you are creating something new, it’s good to ask yourself if you are adding something interesting to the surroundings without taking too much from the environment. I am glad that Mute looks at that issue the same way.
Tired eyes, a cracked psyche, mood swings, headaches - these can all be effects of the wrong lighting.
The lighting of a room influences us in our work and concentration and has a decisive effect on our productivity and well-being. Tired eyes and headaches can be consequences of wrong lighting in a room.
The right light, therefore, has a big impact on a pleasant working atmosphere. So while designing an office, thinking beyond desks and technical equipment is required. We will tell you how companies and organizations can ensure the right light environment in their offices.
The Effect of Daylight and the Right Desk Set-up on Our Health
There is no denying that daylight is important to our productivity and the efficiency of our work. But it's not just professionally crucial to work in the right setting - our health will thank us for it too. Tired eyes, a cracked psyche, mood swings, headaches - these can all be effects of the wrong lighting. As Philips makes clear in a report, sunlight and natural light, in particular, have an impact on our well-being and work performance. To support employees in their work, companies need to create a pleasant lighting atmosphere in the office.
Bell with GOLF LED creates warm ambient lighting
Line with double LEDs emits bright beam
Different Types of Lighting to Create a Perfect Environment
Different types of lightning can support employees in the way they work and help companies to provide an atmosphere that will contribute to their well-being at the workplace.
Task Lighting vs. Ambient Lighting
Ambient lighting is the general lighting of a room. It substitutes as natural light and provides the overall illumination of a room. Chandeliers, ceiling lights, and even wall lights that lighten up more than on spot create an even lighting level and a relaxing environment in offices and public areas like restaurants, receptions and hotel lobbies.
The use of task lighting is already included in its name as it is light at a specific spot that is used to be able to do certain tasks like writing or reading. This type of light helps to stimulate our brain and supports us when we have to concentrate and focus. Therefore, light sources like pendant lamps above desk areas, desk lamps and swing arm lamps, fall under the category of task lighting. They are great solutions for work stations, conference rooms and open-plan offices.
While designing spaces, companies need to ensure the necessary illumination levels for each possible area. To do so, they have to consider "Lux" and "Lumens". Lumen is the total amount of light emitted in all directions from the source. Lux is a measure of illuminance - a total amount of light that falls on a Surface. The same lamp will deliver different amounts of luxes depending on how high it is hung. At the same time different areas require different numbers of luxes. Workstations and meeting rooms need to ensure 500 lux, and reception desks need 300 lux. Entrance halls, on the other hand, only need 100 lux.
Light Colour 3K or 4K
LED lamps and luminaires are available in several colour temperatures. Lamp colour is often a personal choice that is made depending on the environment that should be created. However, most common in office and public spaces are 3000k and 4000k lights. 4000k is a cooler and whiter light that helps to keep people focused. It is mainly used for task lighting. 3000k light, on the other hand, brings a warmer light to a room but may make people a little sleepy after working in this light for a few hours.
Added Options For an Even Better Light Set-up
Additional functions of lightning can provide even more comfort. Very bright light can be dimmed thanks to a Dali dimmer. That way, you can enjoy a little break or adjust the light according to the room and the setting. The microprism diffuser provides a high level of visual comfort. It is ideal for lighting workplaces with its special prismatic structure, as it has low glare due to its special design. With it you can ensure perfect lighting conditions, especially in the workplace.
The right lighting is essential in modern offices. Therefore, you should focus on designing an environment that supports creativity and productivity and increases everyone's well-being. The right lighting solutions not only bring comfort and a pleasant atmosphere but are also flexible and smart and can be adjusted to individual needs easily.
We have to embrace change, take employees' needs seriously, and work with them to grow the company.
2020 has been a year of obstacles to overcome for many companies. 2021 is seen as a year of change and renewals.
A rethinking of the way we work and the design of workspaces was necessary. Now a new normal has to be applied in many office spaces.
Working as a Team in a Redesigned Office
Despite the advantages of working from home, most employees hope to return to the office after the pandemic or at least find part-time remote solutions that let them work in the office and from home. Many miss the contact with their co-workers, especially since social connections build trust and bonds in teams.
Digitalization became even more important, and many organizations developed great solutions to connect teams. Socialising cannot happen from the home office or through video calls only, and the office experience finds new value.
During the lockdown, companies had to find ways to have a proper workflow and processes while working remotely. For many, this led to an optimisation of work processes that can easily be adapted to the office's work. This also means that offices need to be redesigned in order to provide the right working spaces for team meetings, collaborations, and efficient working in privacy.
Three Advantages of a New Office
The design of a new office is connected to many advantages you will have as a company and especially for your employees to work effectively without being stressed and being under mental pressure.
1. More Privacy
Working in a large office space often takes away privacy and the possibility to work in peace. Many employees struggle with productivity and efficiency in shared areas. But new offices in 2021 will be different. With the right steps and measures, companies will be able to create privacy and develop a sense of psychological comfort and security. Ideas can spread when people feel at ease. Privacy screens or a further distance to colleagues help with the acoustics around you, and protect you from noises in adjacent workspaces. Solutions like acoustic pods will give you the ability to focus on your work and hold uninterrupted meetings.
Space XL for the biggest brainstorms
Space L Meeting for a project meetup
2. Less Working Stations More Co-working
New offices will provide more than just some desks, chairs and the usual office environment. They will be collaboration spaces. As per Workspace Utlization Index by Density 76% of the time meeting rooms are occupied by maximum 4 people and 86% of the time by maximum 6 people. This is why companies will more often choose pods instead of building conference rooms. Teams need a place to work on a large scale and complex projects without sending mails around to communicate. Sitting together they will be able to move forward with their project way faster and more efficient.
The JLL’s Global findings on workplace re-entry during COVID-19 research has shown that organizations have been increasingly allocating less square footage to individual desks. It’s clear that safely re-entering the workplace will require a reversal of that densification trend, at least for the near-term.
Space L Double for long project sessions
Space M Double for quick one-to-ones
3. Flexibility and Mobility
Future work spaces require more flexibility. Furniture and acoustic solutions you choose need to be easy to adjust to individual requirements and situations. The number of people using it may vary, so agile solutions are needed. With our pods you can change the setup and the purpose or move them around to easily rearrange office according to your needs.
Wall on coasters with whiteboard stimulates the creativity
Agility and Flexibility for a Better Work Environment
Adaptability, agility, and flexibility define the office spaces of the future. We have to embrace change, take employees' needs seriously, and work with them to grow the company. In 2020 companies were in a short period of hibernation. This year many are working full speed on new solutions to adapt to the new needs of employees and a work environment that is important for our mental and physical health.
Moisture can slowly penetrate materials and permanently damage them. At Mute, we are committed to our products' longevity and therefore started using the vapor control layer in all our pods on January 1st, 2021. This layer stops moisture from flowing between zones inside the pod walls.
The vapor barrier layer sits between the outer wall and the inner wall that is filled with a proprietary composition of sound isolating and absorbing materials. Thus, the vapor barrier layer performs the function of moisture regulation inside the wall.
→ Moisture from the outside cannot penetrate during transportation and use.
→ Fungus and mold growth inside the walls are prevented. This increases the safety of use.
The robust and flexible vapor control layer produce a reliable permanent internal barrier in our pods' walls and help create a pleasant environment and guarantee the longevity of our products.
Thanks to the vapor barrier, we can create a healthy environment in offices and for your employees.