Beautifully designed office space with wide open areas and lots of natural light seem like the perfect setting for collaborative teams to really get things done. However, the new "cubeless" office lifestyle has brought about a new consideration in productivity and comfort - noise and how to mitigate it in the office.
In fact, a 2013 study from the University of Sydney found that a lack of sound privacy was far and away the biggest drain on employee morale. So what does this mean for your new, beautiful, and very open work space? You may need to consider adding ambient noise to the environment.
Ambient noise is not a new concept. We all know someone who cannot sleep without a fan. This is a form of ambient noise commonly referred to as white noise. The consistency of the sound masks all other, more distracting or sharp noise in the area to allow for more restful and sound sleep.
While you don't want employees sleeping at their desks, a similar concept can be effective in reducing distracting noise at work. In addition to white noise, there is also pink noise. The general definition of the difference between white and pink noise is; white noise is equal energy per frequency and pink noise is equal energy per octave. Meaning pink noise lessens the sharp noises that range in pitch. Energy per octave means we don't hear anything more substantial happening when a high note jumps up an octave than we do a low note.
In the office supply world, a new category of office equipment has opened in response to the white/pink noise demand. For example, Logitech makes a speaker that produces pink noise. The compact design of the speaker makes it ideal for an office environment.
Headphones are another idea for those who want to fully block out the world around them. Noise cancelling headphones from Maxell HP are on sale this month for $41.18.
Adding area rugs specifically designed to dampen noise are a good addition for function and style in any work space with hard surface floors. Their ability to absorb voice and footstep noise is a good way to keep your beautiful open concept, but make it more conducive to work and less annoying for those living in those spaces.
For more ideas on ways to mitigate noise in your office, visit the specials area of our website. You'll find it on our home page at