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Do You Hear That?

Have you thought about the implications of noise and the new way we will be working? Even when we can return to the workplace, will we? And if we do, do you think we will prefer virtual meetings rather than running off to meetings and wasting time and money in traveling?

Now don't get me wrong. There will always be a need for "in person". We are humans and we need human contact. In fact, we crave it. Haven’t you felt the effects of isolation during this pandemic? The prevention of spreading disease has threatened simple interaction. This lack of human contact has caught up with many of us. The desire and need to be in the company of others is not going away. It is crucial for our physical and mental health. However, this pandemic has shown us other ways to conduct business.

We see that work places and even home spaces will be set up differently from what we have experienced pre COVID-19. Where there used to be open floorplans, now more spread out desk areas and dividers will be seen. Many won’t be sorry to see the demise of the open floorplan.

There have been many discussions and much research done on the pros and cons of an open plan.

Studies show that cubicles actually increase productivity. Think about it. In your own space you have more of an opportunity to concentrate and not be distracted by what is going on around you. Yes, being able to collaborate with your coworkers is often helpful. This type of workspace will need to be incorporated into an overall plan. However, there is also something to be said about privacy, noise reduction and in the case of a pandemic, germ control.

Architects and Interior Designers will be giving acoustics in the workplace and home greater attention. Just like we don’t particularly want to hear other people’s phone conversations when we are out in public, we won’t necessarily want to sit through our coworkers’ Zoom meetings or webinars.

During this pandemic we have been conducting business, taking classes, viewing webinars and attending meetings virtually. Some people have multiple classroom settings in their home, while others have several people on their computers working remotely. All of these family members need their privacy and require their own recipe for a productive workspace, whether it be so quiet you can hear a pin drop, or with background music on to help focus on a task. Either way, acoustics will come into play when designing these spaces.

Design will also take into consideration portable or temporary work and study spaces. Not everyone is able to dedicate a room to a specific need. Dining room tables have become classrooms, tables in family rooms have become desks. Kitchen counters are being used for both. Wouldn’t it be great to have some kind of divider that can be set up that would lend some privacy and acoustic control? It would be even better if these dividers could then be easily taken down and stored for the evening?

In their article from September 18, 2019 titled, “How to Improve the Acoustics of a Room”

ArchDaily explains that creating spaces with an adequate degree of soundproofing improves the quality of life of all users. When the noise around you is excessive or unwanted, it impacts the human body, the mind, and daily activities.

Blaine Brownell, Director, School of Architecture, University of North Carolina writes, “Recognizing that work environments of the future will require greater sensitivity to sound control creates a new opportunity for acoustically attuned architecture.”

Many more people will be spending more time in their homes in future. We will need to include acoustic considerations there too.

You can read Blaine Brownell’s article here:

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