Office Background Noise Explained

Not sure how to reduce office background noise? Rexel’s Noise Reduction Guide answers 5 questions to help you on your journey towards a more productive work environment.

Grey floorstanding noise reduction panel

1. Which workplaces use noise reduction panels?

Noise reduction panels, also referred to as sound adsorption panels, are commonly used to combat the distraction and resulting lost productivity caused by the background noise generated by multiple workers in open planned offices.

Unwanted background noise can also be reduced in environments such as restaurants and schools by installing noise reduction panels.

If you look for them, you’ll find the panels deployed in many different noisy environments with abundant hard surfaces, such as walkways and corridors.

2. Why does office background noise distract?

Workplace environments are intrinsically linked to employee wellbeing and improving the working environment has never received as much attention as it does today. Employers understand the link between the ambient environment of the worker and their productivity.

Background or low-level noise is often cited as a cause of disruption and can be distracting for those seeking to concentrate.

Unwanted ambient noise can negatively impact employee health and wellbeing by increasing general stress levels and aggravating stress-related conditions such as headaches and high blood pressure. The effects worsen with prolonged exposure and can negatively impact higher brain function, impairing learning and memory, disrupting capacity to think clearly and retain information.

3. How is office background noise generated?

There are countless sources of noise in a working environment. Conversations, telephone calls, photocopiers, printers, keyboards, mobile phones, docking and undocking laptops, not to mention machinery in warehouses or production plants, all contribute. Even whispered chatter in school auditoriums or heavy footsteps in airport lounges have an impact.

Once a sound wave is generated, it travels until its energy dissipates. Hard surfaces such as uncarpeted floors, glass windows, conference and meeting tables, computer monitor screens and whiteboards allow more sound wave reverberation within the boundaries of the environment than softer materials that can absorb the sound energy.

4. Why is sound absorption effective in noisy offices?

Sound absorption materials are commonly used in construction for sound proofing and are effective alternatives to white noise strategies that attempt to mask distracting sound frequencies.

Our video shows just how effective noise reduction panels are at absorbing soundwaves.

Noise reduction panels employ the same noise absorption principles as permanent sound proofing boards but offer the flexibility of being mounted or positioned in areas where they will deliver most benefit. This makes them the best solution for noisy and loud offices as well as other spaces reducing background noise without incurring cost or workspace inflexibility presented by soundproofing is important.

Rexel ActiVita Noise Reduction Panels

Reverberation time in a typical office is about 2 seconds, that’s the time it takes for a noise to dissipate (or reduce). A reverberation time of 1 second is believed to be a comfortable level for the general office environment. Just 20% coverage of wall surface area in a room will reduce the reverberation time by anything from 0.5 seconds to slightly over 1 second (depending on how reflective the materials are within your office).

ActiVita Noise Reduction Panels reduce office background noise by 50%.

5. How many noise reduction panels do I need for my office?

Our noise reduction panel calculator will do the math for you.