The trill of the telephone, the keyboard sounds, conversations of colleagues in neighboring offices, traffic sounds — all this distracts from the working process. Over time, office workers accumulate fatigue and irritability, suffer from headaches, and decreased productivity. How to cope with all these problems? Well, if you are going to rent a new office, pay particular attention to soundproofing. This is not only about walls alone — an integrated approach is needed.
The sound insulation of windows
Street noise annoys office workers less than sounds in the office, thanks to the solid walls. However, for the sound insulation to be complete, the office should be equipped with sound-insulated windows. Various modifications of a noise-insulated ventilation flap ensure a constant airflow even when the window is closed. They are relevant for offices with windows facing noisy highways. For such offices, it is recommended to have double-glazed windows with glass and cameras of different thicknesses and widths. The more cameras in a window structure, the better it dampens the sounds.
Soundproofing of doorways
Doors are another source of noise, especially if they are made of thin materials and do not ideally fit the doorway. Instead of plastic or metal single-layer doors, it is better to install multi-layer doors: they have a fairly high sound insulation index of 40–45 dB. Sealing gaskets and a doorstep will relieve the door structure of gaps through which sound can penetrate. But this is not enough.
The seams between the door and the doorway are usually filled with polyurethane foam, the sound insulation characteristics of which are far from ideal. Without special protection, it conducts sound well and negates other investments in sound insulation.
Soundproofing of walls
A half-brick wall with a layer of plaster 150 mm thick has a sound insulation index of 47 dB, while a standard concrete wall — 41 dB. Gypsum tongue-and-groove slabs are also quite effective in reducing acoustic noise. However, walls in offices are often made not of them, but thin drywall without soundproofing layers. With the help of modern materials, it is possible to improve its sound insulation characteristics up to 58–68 dB.
To increase the sound insulation index of the wall, a structure from a metal frame and drywall is built. They are glued with special insulating materials of different densities. Metal elements are covered with vibration-damping tape, which stops the transmission of noise. The thickness of the wall will improve the sound insulation to the optimal level.
Ceiling and floor soundproofing
If the office space is in a multi-story building, employees in responsible departments are often annoyed by steps and conversations from above. You can use a double-layer membrane, which is effective against airborne and impact noise, and also perfectly dampens vibrations from metal elements. This will add another 5 dB to the overall sound insulation index.
Instead of a ceiling on the first floor, it is sometimes advisable to soundproof the floor on the second, especially if the room is still undergoing renovation. Soundproofing materials are placed under the screed. It is impossible to perform such actions in a working office.
How to reduce noise in open-space offices?
Open space offices are popular these days: they allow you to arrange many workplaces in a relatively small area. Employees often experience inconvenience from loud conversations, phone calls, and constant noise. Of course, it is impossible to achieve complete silence in such conditions. We are talking about reducing noise to a comfortable level using partitions with a height of 1.2–2.1 m.
Standard chipboard partitions serve only as a mechanical wall and do not participate in sound insulation. For this purpose, it is also worth using soundproofing materials that can reduce the noise level by 53–65 dB. For example, using a vibration isolation tape can help reduce noise.
Offices generally don’t have much free space, so soundproofing materials need to be compact. Another important requirement is environmental friendliness because employees spend a lot of time at work. A wide variety of models, colors, and materials for finishing the front surfaces of existing sound-absorbing materials opens up wide opportunities for creating original office interiors while meeting the necessary acoustic requirements. If the potential workspace doesn’t provide the possibility of renovation, feel free to ask the landlord about the above-mentioned criteria.