Design

UK charity, Action on Hearing Loss, is taking on extraneous and unnecessary noise:

How to Combat the Background Noise in Restaurants.

The article discusses Action on Hearing Loss’s “Speak Easy” campaign which takes aim at high noise levels in restaurant chains.  The charity conducted a survey of nearly 1,500 people across the UK and found that “eight out of ten people have left a restaurant, cafe or pub early due to noise levels” and that 91% said that they “would not return to a venue they considered to be too noisy.”  Armed with the statistics, the charity “produced a practical guide to help the catering industry improve customer experience levels with noise reduction measures.”  This is a brilliant approach to an often ignored problem.  Kudos to Action on Hearing Loss.

 

Noise-free work space is now a perk.

When It Comes to Workplace Noise, Millennials Can’t Even.

Yes, as upper management tries to squeeze more and more of the worker bees into the tiniest footprint they can, it turns out that savings in the account ledger comes at a price:

Oxford Economics, an analysis firm spun out of Oxford University’s business college, reached out to more than 1,200 executives and non-senior employees across industries, including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, financial services, and the government sector. The majority of the respondents (74 percent) reported that they worked in open-plan offices. A handful had private offices, and the rest split their days between home offices, travel, co-working spaces, or a combination of the three. About half of the respondents were Millennials.

*    *     *

More than half of the employees complained about noise. The researchers found that Millennials were especially likely to voice concern about rising decibels, and to wear headphones to drown out the sound or leave their desks in search of quieter corners.

So what was the most important “perk” for millennials?

Across the board, uninterrupted work time trumped employees’ wish lists. [Ed: emphasis added.] None of the respondents indicated that amenities like free food were most important to them in a work environment.

Essentially, providing an environment that allows your employees to do their work is a perk.  How telling is that?

It looks like the campaign to provide noise-free shopping is progressing:

Scottish shopping center to introduce a quiet hour to make mall “more autism-friendly.”

In the UK, at least, business owners are beginning to understand that there is an underserved market that is eager for noise-free environments.  While efforts to address this market may be driven in part by compassion, there is no doubt that a robust response by the buying public will make quiet hours de rigueur.  Let’s hope the UK experience is profitable, because that may give incentive to U.S. businesses to design quieter spaces.

How can you address noise pollution in the home?

Living the quiet life thanks to acoustic fittings.

The article interviews Poppy Szkiler of Quiet Mark, which is associated with the Noise Abatement Society, a UK charity.  Szkiler said that, “[i]t’s difficult to mount a campaign against something like noise that you can’t actually see. You need a positive reward system to encourage manufacturers to design quieter products.”  So Quiet Mark, using a sophisticated testing system, “gives approval awards to encourage noise reduction in everyday household appliances.”  Readers are encouraged to look for the Quiet Mark, a purple “Q” symbol, on an item to know they are getting the quietest of its class.

If you have seen appliances bearing the Quiet Mark in U.S. retailers, please let us know in the comments.

Noise reduction has become a “major preoccupation” in Scandinavian interiors

Acoustics were the hot topic at Stockholm Furniture Fair, with designers and brands launching products aimed at making interiors quieter.

One of the fair’s jurors noted that “designers have neglected noise in interiors for too long,” adding that they fail to consider sound because they focus solely on whether a design looks nice.  Most of the designs were in response to the open floor plans corporations have adopted as a way to squeeze as many employees into as little a footprint as possible, as a “side effect of this is that workers’ productivity is increasingly affected by noise distractions.”  No doubt the cost of distraction hits the bottom line in one way or another, as the article states that there is a great deal of demand for these products in Scandinavia.  One hopes American designers embrace the noise reduction trend sooner rather than later.

Dying in noise:

Death. I fear dying – in noise.  An interesting article by Mai-Britt Beldam, who designs/manages acoustics in health care, about her father’s time in hospice, a Cambridge professor reduced to tears by a noisy hospital as he was dying, and her fear of dying in noise.

 

 

How are patients expected to recover when hospitals are so loud?

Intensive care’s intensive noise problem.  Click the link for an interesting read about the effect of noise in intensive care units on both patients and staff.  Short form: Patients can’t sleep, staff have increased stress levels.

Link via Quiet Mark, a UK national charitable foundation that focuses on abating excessive and unnecessary noise by creating demand and providing incentive for quieter technology in homes, workplaces, and public spaces.

 

Why everyone–except the bean counters and upper management–hates open plan offices:

When All’s Not Quiet On the Office Front, Everyone Suffers.

Click the link to learn the 12 ways that workplace noise affects worker well-being and productivity.  While the executive team, safely ensconced in their offices, may not care about worker well-being, productivity is another thing altogether.

For a bit of background on the use of open-floor plans and some advice on how to make them better, see Open-Plan Offices Are the Worst, Here’s how to make them slightly less terrible.