The Power of Sound

While ratios will vary from industry to industry, it is generally accepted that the typical company will have a ratio of focus work to non focus work between 40% to 60% of the time.

There are several pieces of research including the comprehensive research from BOSTI1 which spanned 13000 employees across a range of age groups, that identified that the ability to focus free of distraction, is one of the most significant and sought after traits in a workspace.

If open floor plates leading to flexibility, agility and more collaborative strategies are to succeed, then the ability to manage acoustics must be a critical competence of the property and facilities team.

Collaboration demands potential communicators are within reasonable proximity. Further due to our bounded rationality, the opportunity to “accidentally” collaborate with colleagues is to be encouraged.

Thus a design conundrum emerges. How do you facilitate numerous collaborative opportunities with the periodic requirement to focus free of distraction?

If noise from conversation is to be encouraged, then mitigation not elimination of noise should be encouraged. The level of mitigation is only to the level where audibility of conversation is no longer easily attained. Research has shown that if conversation volumes are mitigate to the level that the conscious brain cannot register a conversation then focus can be achieved.

Acoustic strategies can either be absorptive or insulation style in nature. Depending upon the need for confidential conversations or reducing inbound signals, acoustics matter.


1.Bosti (Buffalo Organization for Social and Technological Innovation.


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