Open-plan: the worst ever workplace trend?

04 Nov 2019

Open-plan offices get a bad rap. They’ve been accused of being toxic, the dumbest management fad of all time, working against minority groups, damaging for our mental health and helping to reduce productivity, engagement and morale. Quite a list.

But at the same time, open-plan offices are cost effective, allow room for expansion and changing team dynamics, create more working collaboration, reduce the need for separate meetings, enable a ‘buzzy atmosphere’ enhancing the office culture and enjoyment at work.

Look into most of the complaints and it’s all down to noise. People generally don’t like open-plan spaces because they can’t hear themselves think, let alone work. They are easily distracted and constantly interrupted.

The typical noise level in an open plan office is 65dB, similar to that of a vacuum cleaner. Imagine working with someone hoovering behind you all day! Even low-level background noise has been found to increase stress levels.

The solution is not to ditch the open-plan office as many people claim, but to design it with noise in mind. Considering acoustics at the planning stage is essential when embarking on an office design or refurbishment. Create quiet spaces where people can get away from the buzz and really focus undisturbed. Design in booths for people to take those loud phone calls. And use a variety of acoustic panels in open-plan spaces to absorb the sound that’s there.

By thinking about sound from the outset, open-plan offices can be the effective, productive places they deserve to be.

Want to talk about how our acoustic panels could help you? Get in touch or check out our products

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