A good acoustic environment helps us concentrate, reduces stress and improves wellbeing, which in turn has a positive impact on the bottom line. In the latest episode of Ecophon UK and Ireland’s Podcast “A Sound Effect on People”, presenter Salma Cranefield is joined by Ecophon UK&I concept developer Paige Hodsman (@paigehodsman) and by psychologist Dr Nigel Oseland (@oseland) from Workplace Unlimited to explore how sound and noise affect us, both psychologically and physiologically, and how the impact varies depending on our individual personalities.
Technology has provided choice, but not for everyone
The episode starts with the evolution of the modern office, from Taylorism to modern flexible spaces. As has been widely reported, these larger open-plan spaces, with different tasks and people, can create acoustic challenges. Recent advances in technology mean that for some people using the office is now a choice, but that is not the case for everyone.
In the second part of the podcast, Salma and Paige are joined by environmental psychologist and workplace consultant Dr Nigel Oseland from Workplace Unlimited. Both Nigel and Paige advocate that when designing an office space, the personality types of the people who will be working there must be considered, as well as the types of task they will do there. Acoustic etiquette and behaviour are just as important as the physical space, although the addition of acoustic absorbers has been shown to make a significant difference to stress and comfort.
Research shows how to design calm offices
A study made by the Stress Research Institute from the Stockholm University with a unique cross-over design showing significant findings:
* Up to 16% reduction in perceived disturbance in general.
* Up to 25% reduction in disturbance at close range.
* Up to 21% reduction in disturbance at long range.
* Up to 11% reduction in cognitive stress.
- Improved Concentration capability
- Improved Memory capability
- Better decision making and easier to think clear
Nigel’s research has shown how the nature of work is changing, and that acoustics plays an important part in the success of the office. He believes that to ignore acoustics is irresponsible, due to the effect of poor acoustics on productivity and absenteeism, and that architects and employers should learn more about the psychoacoustics-based approach to office design. In the final part of the podcast, Salma and our guests look at how the acoustic environment indoors can be made to mimic the natural environment of the outside world, creating a sense of calm and comfort to those working there.
Where to find the podcast
The podcast can be found on iTunes, or via your usual podcast app. Just search for A Sound Effect on People, and subscribe for future episodes. We hope you enjoy the episode, please share to anyone you think should listen and leave a comment below if you have any questions.
The podcast will be back at the start of December with a look at the importance of acoustics in healthcare environments.