One of the biggest trends in workplace design in recent decades has been the rise of open-plan office layouts. These offices account for 54 per cent of UK workspaces, thanks to their flexibility and ability to support collaborative working. Nevertheless, the lack of walls and cubicles, combined with the hard surfaces of furniture and uncarpeted floors, can lead to excessive background noise and sound reverberation, explains John Newbury, British Gypsum’s senior product manager – Acoustic Ceilings.

According to the Department of the Environment, a typical office generates sound levels of more than 54 A-weighted decibels (dB(A)) – well above the recommended 45 dB(A). This can have a negative impact on employees’ concentration and  productivity, as well as their health and emotional wellbeing.

It is clear that, whether selecting interior construction materials for new offices or renovating existing ones, specifiers must consider the acoustic impact of their solutions on the people using the finished space.

Specifiers should think about each area’s intended function, so that appropriate acoustic systems can be included in walls and ceilings to control the passage of sound.  For example, zones for group  discussions need solutions that minimise reverberation to maintain speech intelligibility while  preventing sound from reaching the rest of the room. Whereas, meeting rooms require additional sound insulation for privacy.

At the same time, specifiers must ensure their materials meet other performance requirements, such as flexibility to allow changes to be made to the space’s layout. Fire resistance should also be taken into account to meet regulations.

To achieve these goals, specifiers should opt for solutions that  combine multiple benefits into a single system, such as British Gypsum’s Eurocoustics ceiling tile range. This solution offers class A sound absorption as standard and reduced reverberation times to keep background noise to a minimum, as well as A1 reaction to fire and 30 minutes’ fire resistance.

By using such solutions and keeping acoustics in mind,  specifiers can support businesses in creating a quiet, productive work environment that protects both workers’ health and the  organisation’s bottom line.

British Gypsum senior product manager – Acoustic Ceilings