Acoustics is the branch of physics relating to the properties of sound and, in the workplace, we use the word to mean the properties of a room or building that affect how sound is transmitted within it.
To most of us, poor acoustics simply means too much unwanted noise. In particular, the rush to homeworking caused by the Covid pandemic has made many people realise how noisy their office was when they were working there full-time. The science is well established and research shows that unwanted noise can be distracting, reducing productivity and potentially affecting health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, most modern offices are full of surfaces such as glass, concrete and steel that reflect sound rather than absorb it.
With the move to hybrid working, employers are creating multi-functional offices with zones for different activities, each with different acoustic needs. Equally important, individuals each have their personal acoustic preferences. The need for effective management of acoustics is therefore more important than ever. This can be done in many different ways, both passive (mostly by absorption) and active (microphone and speaker systems to counteract noise issues).