15 - Oct - 2021

Employee welfare falling short when adapting workspaces

Refurb & Developer Update Magazine feat Oscar Acoustics

New research shows health of returning workers not prioritised when adapting workspaces
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UK acoustics specialists, Oscar Acoustics, releases the finding from its 2021 research into office-space reconfiguration which surveyed over 200 architects on the challenges faced when transforming and adapting workspaces.

  • Almost half of (42%) architects say clients aren’t interested in ‘end-user health’, despite offering guidance
  • ‘Inadequate budgets’ and ‘inflexible existing finishes’ stated as design challenges faced by architects (40%)
  • Just 9% of architects say acoustic design is given the attention it deserves, despite health risks caused by excessive noise
  • 67% of architects cite ‘small design budgets’ as their biggest design challenge to noise reduction in the workplace
  • Nearly a third of architects (29%) state that limited space is main preventative to social distancing

office acoustics

Adapting workspaces: SonaSpray K-13 in Herbal House. Credit to TP Bennett, BW Workplace and Tom Green Photography.

Consider employee welfare when adapting workspaces

With a focus on employee welfare, the survey delivered a damning snapshot of the level of consideration being given to COVID-19 safety measures and acoustic health, which also has the potential to damage the physical and physiological wellbeing of returning workers.

The study found that nearly half of architects’ clients (42%) aren’t interested in ‘end-user health’ when refurbishing and adapting workspaces.  This is despite being offered guidance and expertise.

Architects are facing further trials – two in five respondents (40%) highlighted that ‘inadequate budget for the necessary works’ and ‘inflexible existing finishes’ were main challenges when working on office fitouts.

Office acoustics

Adapting workspaces: SonaSpray K-13 in Herbal House. Credit to TP Bennett, BW Workplace and Tom Green Photography.

This also extended to excessive noise within offices, an area that can cause adverse health effects, with over two-thirds of architects (67%) citing small design budgets as their biggest design challenge to noise reduction.  Just 9% of architects also felt that acoustic design is given the attention it deserves by their clients.

Smaller workplaces are also proving problematic, as nearly a third of architects (29%) placed limited space as a main preventative to ensuring adequate levels of social distancing.

Ben Hancock, Managing Director at Oscar Acoustics, said: “In the wake of the pandemic and with the surge of returning office workers, it’s disappointing to see that some companies are unaware of their responsibility to the health and safety of staff."

“The effects of excessive noise can be a silent killer and its clear that its impact is still being underestimated.  Studies have proven that excessive noise can increase the risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes and the rise in office re-fits and refurbishments has given companies a chance to overcome these issues head-on.  If businesses are to come back stronger than ever, then it starts with creating the right environment for staff to thrive and feel at ease".”

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Adapting workspaces with quality acoustics

Offering an inviting, calm and acoustically adapted workspace is now more important than ever and it is crucial to choose an acoustic product that allows for office configuration and reconfiguration as requirements shift. 

SonaSpray is a recycled and fire-rated acoustic finish applied to ceilings and walls.  It conforms to any surface shape and the high-performance adhesive bonds to virtually all common construction materials, including plaster, metal, concrete and wood, achieving class-leading acoustics without design compromise.  SonaSpray allows for complete flexibility with Cat A and Cat B fit-out configuration and reconfiguration.  Dividing structures such as cubicle style offices and modular pods can be brought in and out without disrupting the seamless acoustic decorative finish above, enabling architects to create adaptable and calm spaces where employees don’t need to shout to be heard.

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