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Open Office Acoustics: Save Your Open Plan Project from Failure

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published an article on CITI Bank’s new workplace in NYC:

Citi’s Open Office Plan: A Good Idea? It’s a good read for anyone interested in the topic of open office acoustics.

I like to read the comment sections on articles like this.  The typical comment can be summarized easily:

“I hate this, and I hate you for doing this to me!”

There are some really great open work spaces out there.  Yes it’s true!  They have people working in them that actually enjoy them.

What makes the difference between the spaces that successfully pull off open office acoustics and the dreadful places?

Someone could write a book about it but to boil it down, there are few key steps that set things on the right track.

Special Considerations for Open Office Acoustics

From my Friend Kay Sargent: “Change management, or “forward facilitation”, is needed to help establish the new protocols, ways of working, and behaviors that we want to encourage or discourage”. Read more at Workdesign Magazine:

Driving blindly into a different workplace will likely lead to huge disappointment if not open revolt (read those comment sections!)

Privacy and focus: Who within the organization needs to have a place that allows focus?  Does their assigned workstation allow this kind of work? Granted, private offices for all are not the answer for most organizations. They are expensive and lead to silo’s with little interaction.

BUT! That doesn’t mean that employees don’t need to focus. Studies indicate that it can take up to 23 minutes to regain focus when working on technical processes.

The issue of focus deserves some attention. The application of Workplace Acoustics can be a powerful tool when looking at this issue. When brought into the planning process, good acoustics are not expensive. Fixing bad acoustics after occupancy can be terribly expensive.

Read more here and here.

My friend Kevin Kelly with the U.S. General Services Administration was the lead on a great piece of work that was published a few years ago called Sound Matters. This is also a very good reference.

There is great information that tells the story of success and failure. Choose to succeed!

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