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Guest blog: Silence in a world of noise

12/18/18 10:13 AM

Do you find it difficult to focus on your work when a colleague nearby is on the phone or having an impromptu brainstorming session with another colleague? Many employers are looking for easy and flexible ways to reduce noise and disruptions in their offices and to increase their staff’s happiness. In this blog, Sales Director Finland Tapani Laitila from Framery Acoustics explores possible solutions and up-and-coming trends in workspace design.

Soundproof meeting pods reduce noise levels and provide privacy in open spaces.
Framery’s soundproof acoustic meeting pods provide an ideal setting for meetings, brainstorming and teamwork.

I've been lucky to witness my current employer’s road to success from the very beginning while also seeing a huge transformation in the design of workspaces.

I remember how, back in 2011, I sat in the auditorium of my employer at the time, Martela, and listened  to Samu Hällfors and Vesa Marjamäki pitching their idea for a new product: “Let’s fill all open-plan offices with phone booths,” they said. I remember being skeptical. But here we are, seven years later, and the demand for the product certainly hasn't decreased. In fact, the need for phone booths and compact meeting pods just keeps growing, as activity-based office design continues to gain ground.

I am a huge supporter of activity-based offices, but they must be carefully designed and take the workers’ needs into account to be effective. A well-designed workspace promotes informal interaction, brings people together and enables a variety of tasks to be performed with optimal efficiency. Workspace design also needs to factor in the unexpected phone calls that need to be answered without disturbing others.

I remember a time when my top priority was having my own personal desk. But after I gave it up, I quickly realized how liberating it was to be able to choose for myself the most suitable workspace depending on the task I had to perform.

However, the transition from personal to shared workstations inevitably requires workers to take more responsibility for their own actions and be able to plan their day in advance. It is useful to keep in mind that while you are only losing a desk, you are actually gaining an entire office.

More efficiency and job satisfaction through smart design

Numerous studies show that noise and the lack of privacy are among the biggest concerns in open-plan offices. They affect workers’ productivity and happiness and therefore cost money. I believe that with clever design and the right furniture, an activity-based floor plan is by far the best way to maximize productivity and employee well-being in offices. 

A compact phone booth in an activity-based office provides a private space for making important phone and video calls.Framery’s phone booth solves noise and privacy issues in offices. 

I like the ideology that we advocate in our showroom at the Framery HQ inTampere. Even when a space is split into different zones, it can have multiple functional areas simultaneously, provided it is realized using the right solutions. For example, you can have a quiet zone with a pod that enables teamwork and vice versa.

Co-working office spaces, which are all the craze at the moment, are another interesting new approach. Areas that provide sufficient privacy are vital in a co-working space, as the individuals who share the workspace do not work for the same employer and some conversations are not meant for everyone to hear. Compact meeting pods are also extremely useful in these kinds of offices, as the workers rarely need a conventional big conference room.

Soundproof pods are indispensable in offices that are undergoing renovations or being extended. More and more attention is given to the flexibility of space in modern office design. This is why, instead of building permanent structures, it is better to choose solutions that allow the space to be adapted as needs change. Studies show that most meetings these days are between 2–4 people. It therefore does not make sense to build large conference rooms that are rarely needed.

Quiet workspaces in high demand

Soundproof workspaces do not appeal only to silence-loving Finns but also to businesses operating in open-plan offices around the world. I see Finland and the Nordic countries in general as pioneers in office design. Of course, there are large technology corporations in the US that have, for example, playground slides in their offices, but otherwise the US and many other countries are still far behind the Nordics.

At the moment, the nature of work is changing at an unprecedented speed. The following quote from Kinnarps sums it up well: “ Work is no longer a place you attend. Today, work is what you do. Alone and together with others. As the nature of work and technology evolve, so do our needs – from day to day and from one project to the next. Instead of being tied to a specific workstation, we can now rotate between several, ergonomically designed working environments optimized for different tasks. Workers who can decide for themselves whether to work alone or with others are happier and more productive.”

Framery is a pioneer in the design and manufacturing of soundproof phone booths and meeting pods that solve noise and privacy issues in offices. More about Framery.

Rapal’s website provides a platform for guest bloggers to share their knowledge, thoughts and stories that could interest, benefit and entertain our readers. All guest posts can be found here. If you would like to find out more about how we help organizations to increase their employees’ satisfaction and optimize their office costs, you can read about our workplace management services here.

Want to know more about contemporary workspace design?

Rapal’s Optimaze Workplace Review combines data from hundreds of space utilization measurements. Published once a year, the reports contain useful tips for improving workspace design and workplace management.

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Tapani Laitila

Written by Tapani Laitila

Tapani Laitila is a member of Framery's international sales team and as Sales Director Finland is responsible for sales in Finland. He has a strong background in workplace design projects. Framery is a pioneer in the design and manufacturing of soundproof phone booths and meeting pods that solve noise and privacy issues and promote happiness in the workplace.