How Effective Are Acoustic Panels At Reducing (Office) Noise Levels?January 9, 2020 | Panels, Workplace
Heightened noise levels, especially those in offices, can cause distractions and an unhealthy work environment. Sound seeps in through doors and windows, walls, floors and ceilings and can seriously affect stress levels and office productivity, with negative results. While unwanted noise levels can be tackled in a variety of ways, including providing quiet spaces and noise-cancelling headphones, the only way to deal with nuisance noise is to deaden the intrusive sound waves, and one of the most effective ways to achieve this is to use floating acoustic panels on the walls and ceilings.
What Is an Acoustic Panel?
In a large open space like an office, sound waves can hit the walls and bounce back, causing an echo effect. Employees talk more loudly to overcome any background noise, rapidly raising the noise levels in the room. An acoustic panel will absorb and trap these sound waves, converting the energy to heat which quickly dissipates to create a comfortable work environment.
Acoustic panels are sound-absorption devices, meaning that they deal with intrusive noise by deadening it. Basically, good absorption panels will soak up distracting sounds like a huge sponge. The panel itself will be made of a sound-absorbing material like foam, wrapped in fabric or even encased in metal to create free-standing acoustic barriers.
A Good Fit for the Office?
Poor acoustics and distracting noise levels can lead to a 66% drop in productivity if left unaddressed. Sound privacy is by far the biggest issue for your employees, who want to have confidential discussions that don’t reverberate across the room.
Using sound-absorption panels has the advantage that they can be installed quickly and easily without significantly altering the room where they’re installed. In fact, the panels can become a feature in their own right when printed with appropriate artwork. They’re also easy to replace should a panel become damaged, being slightly more difficult to hang than a picture.
Another benefit of using these kind of panels for sound absorption is that they can also enhance the quality of the sound in a space by evening out and equalising the different sound frequencies. This in itself can make your employees far more comfortable, and it prevents ear fatigue.
It’s important that you install panels on the ceiling in order to make the installation as effective as possible. A good place to start is with panels with an NRC, or noise reduction coefficient, of 8.5 and above and then adjust accordingly.
How Effective Are Sound-Absorbing Panels?
If you cover the entire room in foam or mineral wool panels, you’ll effectively deaden all sound, which can create its own issues. The trick is to start with around 50% coverage with acoustic panels and then test to find the appropriate level of coverage for your office which prioritises comfort and privacy without completely muffling all sound. Get the balance right and you’ll create a healthy sonic environment and a productive office.