Sound: acoustics in your workspace

An often overlooked aspect of collaborative space design is sound management.  That is, the need for speakers to be heard, questions captured, and groups to engage in meaningful dialogue.  Unfortunately, you don’t often realise there’s a problem until it’s too late.  Here are some things to think about to make sure your space sounds just right.

Soften it up

I can’t stress enough the importance of soft surfaces to absorb sound.  Depending on your space, this could come in the form of furniture fabric, ceiling tiles, wall tiles, room separators, floor coverings and so on.  A hard floor and open space is a really tempting option to keep things low maintenance and flexible, but voices will bounce around the room making group work extremely difficult.

Flexible seating

Set up any seating to be as flexible as possible, so you can arrange it to suit whatever working session you have.  As an example, breakout pods or preformed theatre benching are both great if that’s all they will ever be used for.  However, if you are looking to deliver an engaging discussions in your space, you’ll soon find a theatre layout doesn’t work, so someone is almost always speaking to someone sitting behind them.

Boost it!

Supplementary voice lift microphones can make a world of difference, and is a simple piece of technology you can build into your space.  Using a well designed audio layout this can ensure everyone in the room can hear a main speaker or facilitator, regardless of seating preference.  Should you wish to use your space for recording, streaming, or any other virtual broadcast this becomes an essential part of your toolkit.  A dedicated mic will separate out your speakers voice clearly allowing them to be heard wherever and whenever needed.

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