Having noise problems with the new way of working?

Due to the Covid crisis, in 2020 46% of people employed did some or all of their work from home. Daily Zoom Team ad Skype meetings have become a big part of our lives. For many of us, this shift may only be temporary. However, some companies and staff are seeing the benefits of working at home, and are making plans to move employees to permanent remote positions (latest research suggests that that that 20 to 30% could be asked to work from home permanently by the end of 2021).

I’m sure all of you have been on a conference call in which a team member’s audio is difficult to understand. This could be caused by a microphone or connection issue, but a large number of intelligibility problems are rooted in a room’s acoustics. Let’s take a look at some common acoustic issues in home offices and how they relate to conference call clarity.

Background Noise – Obviously, it’s difficult to understand speech when there is a lot of background noise. You must isolate yourself from external sound sources as best you can. Some sources (TV, radio, HVAC) are easier to control than others (traffic noise, children the dog!.). Therefore, you need to make sure your office is “closed off” from intruding noise. The way to do this is to view sound little water; it will pour in through any openings, such as gaps around doors. If possible, install full perimeter seals and door sweeps to improve sound isolation in your office. If you have sound transmitting through a wall, ceiling, or floor, you need to consider adding a layer of mass-loaded vinyl such as TechMat- Deatsheet, TecSound, or TechMat – Floor. These products work by helping to block noise from coming in and reducing impact noise from adjoining rooms (chairs scraping, footsteps, etc) 

Reverberation – In simple terms, is when the sound (sound wave) continues to vibrate after the original noise source has stopped making a sound. reverberation is the sound energy that remains in a listening environment as a result of lingering reflections. The reverberation time (RT or RT60) measures how quickly the sound decays in a space. Reverberation time is dependent upon the volume and surface materials of a given room. Large spaces with hard materials (wooden floors, tiles, plasterboard walls, plastered ceilings, glass in windows) have longer reverberation times, while small rooms furnished with “softer” materials (carpet, curtains, etc.) sound more much more dead. Speaker phones, zoom, teams, etc require a very short reverb time, for optimal clarity, somewhere in the 0.5s range (half of a second). You can reduce reverberation in your home office with the addition of or irregular soft furnishings, acoustic panels such as Echo & Alpha, rugs, and curtains.

Flutter Echoes – Flutter echo, which can be heard as an annoying ringing sound, is caused by parallel reflective surfaces. To manage this problem you need to break up any parallel surfaces with furniture or Flex / Avalanche screens, Baffles or Echos and alpha acoustic panels will help. If the problem is really bad then you will need an acoustic diffuser such as Firetech profile foam or TechTile

If you are having problems with your home office with communication, comfort, or concentration driven by noise issues then get us a call or drop us an email and we will do all we can to help.