In addition to access to natural light, quiet in workspaces remains a popular element that is also critical for productivity. When designing a new, or redesigning an existing office space, what are the elements that promote quiet spaces?
Walk and Talk
Many office spaces have some element of co-working or community space. The potential for innovative and collaborative work, including team building and informal interactions between staff members depends on room to walk and talk, sit, and work together. Many office spaces are incorporating a walking path through the workspace that allows staff to stretch their legs and get up and move. Many walking paths are informal arrangements of office furniture that can funnel people onto a short perimeter walk, or longer exterior walking spaces. What several formal or informal walking spaces does for the rest of the workspace is they allow staff to move out from their desks and have conversations with others, both informal and collaborative.
Some office workspaces have undesignated and unassigned spaces, so staff members can use a private or quiet space when needed, but rejoin the rest of the staff for the normal work of the day. Finishing a deadline project, communications with clients, and some creative work that requires both concentration and privacy can be excellent uses for unassigned workspaces or offices.
While many people who work in indoor urban office spaces mention that they love having access to natural light, glass expanses can reflect sound in a disproportionate way. There are several ways that offices can incorporate natural light along with quiet design. Natural wood and cork elements can absorb sound, and reduce the reflections and echoes of sound that occur with large glass windows. Indoor garden spaces in seating areas and gathering places, such as cafeterias, can absorb both sound and odors. Both walls and furniture that use natural textiles can work to decrease noise.
Many workspaces are also focusing their redesign efforts to align with values of environmental stewardship. Preservation, adaptive reuse, recycling, and upcycling materials remain design principles that many feel can reflect social action goals and values. LEED certification programs are also well-known enough that they have value with staff and customers when used as part of a new build or remodel.
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