Sounds Too Good To Miss. Acoustics Panel Discussion Review

Wellworking and Flokk joined forces once again at this year’s Clerkenwell Design Week for an insightful panel discussion around workplace acoustics.

And given the quality of the panel, featuring some of the leading figures in the sector, one message came through loud and clear. Acoustics is a critical area when it comes to driving performance and improving workplace wellbeing.

A stellar panel comprised of Michelle Wilkie from TP Bennett, Dr. Nigel Oseland from Workplace Unlimited, Joachim Schubert from Offecct, and Lee Jones from Wellworking.

Mark Eltringham from Insight Publishing chaired the event at Flokk’s smartly refurbished showroom, and made the point that acoustics is now one of the single biggest area of interests for his audience online.

Environmental and Evolutionary Influences

Nigel and Joachim urged organisations to take environmental and evolutionary factors into account when thinking about acoustics in the modern workplace. Nigel pointed out that “we don’t like complete silence because if you think about it in the natural world, silence is danger”, so some noise is good noise, it seems.

Joachim spoke about our ability to hear sound evolving outdoors, concluding that we should try to re-create this outdoor environment indoors now that we spend 90% of our time indoors. One of his suggestions to mimic the outdoors open sky effect with minimal sound reflections would be to create an acoustic roof indoors.

Acoustics and Psycho-Physics

There were some fascinating insights into the link between different personality types and acoustics. Individual differences in the workplace mean there is not a one size fits all solution. Whereas a noisy work environment might be stimulating and preferred by an extrovert, it will have the opposite effect on the introvert, who normally works better in quieter and calmer work environments.

Michelle Wilkie highlighted the balancing act needed in every workplace when she commented that “…there’s almost a really fine line in what is too noisy in order to concentrate, but then not too quiet so that it still enables collaboration.” This suggests that it can become a tricky task to get the mix absolutely right, particularly as we’re dealing with a diverse set of personalities in the workplace, all taking on different roles.

On a recent project, Michelle designed in a diverse mix of space types designed for different tasks. Meeting rooms were kitted out with the state of the art acoustic wall panels and sound absorption panels to help carry out effective video conference calls, while she also created an area called the ‘hideaway’ which is a quiet and completely tech-free zone with acoustic panels seamlessly built into the ceiling and essentially allows employees to escape from their routine daily tasks.

Lee Jones spoke about the wide range of products on offer for the modern day office, from panels to sofas, from lighting to booths, and touched upon what the effect of good (and bad) acoustics are with the many organisations he works alongside. Working with clients to signpost to colleagues how to use different areas for different tasks is one key way he identified to manage noise or disruption.

Joachim spoke about Offecct’s design principles when it comes to acoustics being a 4-stage process. Reducing the noise, blocking it, absorbing it, and the then finally dispersing it. He demonstrated the design principles behind their newest sound stick product, and also highlighted the excellent environmental credentials behind this and many of Offecct’s other products.

A fascinating event, thoughtfully and sanguinely chaired by Mark Eltringham, whose knowledge around the subject shone through. You can watch our film of the panel here for some of the key highlights from the evening. For more information about acoustics products and services, visit https://www.wellworking.co.uk/.

A short summary video of the acoustics panel event can also be viewed below:

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