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Product Design

Face Masks in the Office – Why Acoustic Improvements Are More Essential Than Ever

September 3, 2020
Arktura VaporSoft Cluster Dense with Soft Sound Backer

After months of having employees working from home, many offices are now attempting to adapt in order to bring employees back into work safely. Many states are now beginning to require face masks to be worn by individuals who cannot feasibly distance themselves from others, particularly in indoor environments like offices. 

There are many types and styles of face masks that people may be using, from simple bandanas and gaiters to filtered cloth masks and even N95s. No matter what kind of face-covering your employees choose to wear, they all can muffle speech. 

In a busy environment, it can be challenging to hear what someone may be saying, especially as facial cues and lip-reading will no longer be an option to aid those listening to understand what’s being said.

Even with masks, many employees may feel more comfortable speaking to one another from a distance, rather than standing close to one another, making it even more challenging to understand the conversation. With more people in one area, people may begin raising their voices to be heard, contributing to the audible chaos. 

For years, open floor plan offices have encountered similar issues with sound and acoustics in large rooms. The solution has been to add acoustic improvements to the spaces to help absorb sound and control echoes. 

With the addition of face masks and the voice muffling they bring, acoustic enhancements are more critical than ever before. 

What Acoustic Systems Do

Arktura SoundEdge

“West Monroe Partners” Chicago, Illinois, Garnett Architects – CH, Robert Buyle (Photographer), Featuring: SoundEdge® by Arktura

 

Acoustic panels, barriers and ceiling systems help absorb sounds and background noises so that the area is more conducive to conversation. The material helps cut down on unwanted noise so that you can have conversations more easily without needing to raise your voice.

In a time when voices may be muffled behind masks, having acoustic panels or materials in your office can help your employees understand one another easier, even from a short distance away. This can better facilitate conversations and communication while helping to cut down on raised voices and a noisy working atmosphere. 

3 Types of Acoustic Systems

Every office environment is different, from the layout to how people work and spend their time. What works for one space might not always be the best fit for another. 

That’s why acoustic systems have several different options, as well as different styles, so you can match your office’s brand and meet your needs. 

1. Ceiling Systems

Arktura SoftFold

“Leavy Library Shoah Foundation USC” Los Angeles, California, Belzberg Architects, LLP, Bruce Damonte (Photographer), Featuring: SoftFold® by Arktura

 

Acoustic ceiling systems are among the most common ways of controlling sound. They work well for open areas and spaces without any partitions or walls. Ceiling systems can be hanging, or they can create a more traditional paneled system that conceals the utilities and HVAC systems behind it. 

It’s possible to use ceiling systems to completely cover the ceiling from one end of the room to the next, so the entire space gets even acoustic control. 

Arktura SoftGrid Flux

“Office Welcome Area” Featuring: SoftGrid® – Flux by Arktura

 

This type of system helps create a unified appearance for the room as well as even, consistent acoustic control. Since the system can be suspended, it’s also useful for spaces with high ceilings. 

It’s also possible for ceiling systems to introduce sound control right where you need it. For example, if you have seating areas, reception desks, counters, desks or other areas where you need targeted sound control, but don’t have walls or partitions nearby, install suspending ceiling systems right above the space. You’ll get targeted noise control exactly where you need it, without wasting budget on areas that don’t need acoustic help.

SoundAngle-12in-web-arktura-acoustic-export-05

“Open Office Workspace” Featuring: SoundAngle® by Arktura

 

This type of system allows you to include lights and other features without disrupting the ceiling’s sound control or function. 

2. Room Dividers

Arktura SoftScreen Groove Angled

“Neutral, Flexible Meeting Space” Featuring: SoftScreen® – Groove Angled by Arktura

 

Along with face masks, many companies are beginning to include spacial barriers in their floor plans. These barriers can help keep people further apart for social distancing, while also blocking air currents. At the same time, it also helps provide some sound control for those who are communicating while wearing masks. 

Movable and modular room dividers can be installed anywhere you need sound control or more distancing. They can be mounted or hung, so they work in a variety of environments and office layouts, and when placed on tracks, they can be moved into and out of position as needed.

Arktura SoftScreen Alcazar

“Office Library & Common Area” Featuring: SoftScreen® – Alcazar by Arktura

 

Stationary panels can also be fixed between seating areas and lounge spaces, giving people privacy, acoustic control for conversations and a safer place to work. 

3. Wall Options

Arktura SoftSound Tiles

“Office Reception Desk” Featuring: SoftSound® – Tiles by Arktura

 

If you have walls nearby where you need sound control, wall tiles and panels can also help. By covering walls behind or next to reception areas, offices, desks and kitchens, you aren’t adding hanging or framing that takes up space, but you are still making that space more comfortable to use and converse in. 

Arktura Vapor Liana

“Office Lobby & Reception” Featuring: Vapor® – Liana by Arktura

 

Wall panels are ideal anywhere you need extra acoustic control but want to create a more subtle appearance. They come in a range of colors and patterns, so you can easily match your office decor while making it easier for your employees to communicate at the same time. 

Help Your Employees Communicate Safely

By adding acoustic improvements to your office space, you help increase the likelihood that your employees will practice social distancing and mask-wearing, which helps keep them safer and provides peace of mind. Making it easier for employees to communicate means that they can be more productive while maximizing safety. 

Contact Arktura today to upgrade the acoustics for your office space and allow your workers to return with confidence.