When the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management questioned 2,000 adults who had been working from home, it found most of them had returned to the office at least once since the lockdown had lifted.

Upon their return, 7 out of 10 said they couldn’t see any obvious changes to their office set up, compared to before the pandemic, while being away from the office had led to half of respondents commenting that their office needed modernisation.

The Institute commented that it was time for employers to face up to adjusted workplace realities -  a situation where new modes of working should heavily influence office set ups and specification.

It comes as no surprise that sound (too much of it and a lack of silence) was cited as a big problem when returning to the office, with workers trying to transition from their quiet, solo home existence to open plan spaces with constant ambient noise.

The struggles are two-fold: concentration is impaired as a result of colleagues’ chatter and video calls are almost impossible to conduct, thanks to background noise. Newly-acquired acoustic problems are something clever office refurbishments, revised layouts and new office furniture can solve quite easily.

Options offered by MPL Interiors include:

  • Pods with in-built TVs, plug sockets and charging points: with three sides and a ‘roof’ made of sound-absorbing materials, external noise is largely kept out, as well as conversations kept in. 
  • Privacy booths: designed for a single person, freestanding booths can provide the highest levels of peace and privacy for times when uninterrupted concentration is required.
  • Acoustic screens: either floor or desk mounted, acoustic screens provide a degree of privacy as well as limiting the travel of sound between colleagues and departments.
  • Zoom rooms: meeting rooms dedicated to video calling can be carved from open plan spaces using partitions, wall-mounted screens and precisely-planned data/power points.
  • Decorative acoustic wall panels: these are useful to stop sound travelling outside of areas and are available in a myriad of colours and shapes. MPL can specify panels with soundproofing baffles and sound-absorbing foam cores.
  • Acoustic ceilings, walls and doors: if sound transference is your biggest issue, MPL can design an office refit using materials with the best acoustic properties.

If you’d like to know more about soundproofing and acoustic privacy in an office environment, speak to our team today.