With the rise of the open office has come the rise of what I’ll call the open office symphony: the consistent click-clack of a colleague who types a little bit too aggressively, the boisterous yammer of loud talkers, and intermittent laughs about something on Slack or Twitter or YouTube.
While I’m sure most of your coworkers are respectful and only err in their ways momentarily (hey, I’m guilty of the aforementioned offenses myself), the din can make it difficult not just to focus, but also to hold meetings and collaborate. But the right design and problem-solving products can help. We spoke to four architects at firms that have designed offices for HBO, Uber, LinkedIn, and Nike about their tricks of the trade.
BUY YOUR WAY OUT OF THE PROBLEM
The easiest way to block noise is to introduce physical barriers. Softer tactile surfaces can “trap” sound and reduce how much sound is reflected, and in turn, how disruptive noise is. This doesn’t mean building a fort out of heavy drapery. Designers have gotten pretty good at making acoustic panels very attractive, like Baux’s patterned acoustic tiles, FilzFelt’s natural felt panels, and Carnegie’s Xorel Artform panels. Certain textiles can even block sound while allowing for visual transparency, like Designtex’s Acoustic Sheers. Even lighting can be found in sound-absorbing iterations, like BuzziSpace’s BuzziPleat lamp.