It was early 2020 when many of us first heard of the word ‘Coronavirus’. The virus was causing havoc in China, forcing the construction of 2 new hospitals in Wuhan within 10 days to deal with the rapidly spreading infection. Fast forward just a few months, the virus is now considered a global pandemic, and the UK would has suffered more casualties than China itself. So what does this have to do with controlling noise at home?
The UK government and public health organisations have advised against public gathering to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, various events around the world have been cancelled or postponed including the EPL season, Glastonbury & the Summer Olympics.
But it’s not just our social lives that have been affected by the virus. Working from home has now become a way of life for at least 15 million people, with more than half of the working population in the UK working remotely. The way we work has changed forever, and there are now millions of new makeshift and permanent home offices around the country.
Controlling Noise at Home
A challenge for most home workers is managing noise and distractions, whether you have a dedicated office or are working from the kitchen table. While getting away from the water cooler chatter of the office might sound like a good idea, working from home presents its own set of noise challenges.
That being said, there are steps you can take to control the levels of noise around you. Below, we’ll delve into some cost-effective ways you can cut out background noise.
1. Selecting a quiet area (if possible)
Ideally, the place you choose to work should be as quiet as possible, preferably in a room where you can close the door. You don’t want to be distracted by noises within your house or apartment. If this isn’t possible, and you need to use a communal space such as the kitchen or sitting room then refer to Point 2 below.
2. Set ground rules with the people in your space
If you need to work in a communal space with others, it’s a good idea to try and set some ground rules with those around you. The last thing you need is someone appearing in the back of your video call in a bath towel, or housemates talking loudly in the background when you’re on the phone. This is probably the easiest and fastest improvement you can make when controlling noise at home.
3. Block out the noise
There are times when you may be distracted by the sounds of dogs barking or cars zooming past or children playing outside. If you live in a loud area, or live with loud people, invest in a decent pair of noise cancelling headphones to address this. As well as cancelling noise, you’ve got the option of listening to music or some soothing sounds.
4. Consider a white noise machine
Many swear by the powers of white noise. While it may not sound desirable, quality white noise machines divert your attention by masking disruptive noises. They drown out other noises in your immediate environment that might interfere with your concentration or relaxation. Learn more about sound masking systems here.
5. Sound absorption
While sounds absorption is common in commercial offices, it is criminally overlooked during the domestic design process. Installing sound absorbing panels reduces reverberation from sounds within the home, and can drastically improve the acoustic comfort of the space. Solid floors, glass doors, appliances, pets and devices all combine to make the home a sub-optimal sound environment. We offer a comprehensive range of products, and can design a solution that is perfect for your setup. Learn more about room acoustics.
6. Use plants to help reduce noise!
Indoor plants have numerous benefits, including improving air quality and adding natural elements to sterile environments; but they can also reduce office noise. Stems, leaves and branches all absorb sound. They are also flexible and can deflect and refract sound. A cheap, easy and quick way to improve the acoustics in your home.
Check out this guide on how to use plants to reduce noise.
7. Upgrade your desk
Autex have recently released Vicinity Desk Screens which easily clamp to a variety of desk sizes. These screens delivery excellent acoustic performance and are easily customisable to suit your space. They also improve the quality of your audio input during conference or video calls. View the entire range on the Autex website.
Effects on Businesses and Performance
Due to the advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and various government agencies, businesses are now faced with layoffs and closures unless they adapt to the changing circumstances.
With the priority now being to curb the spread of the virus by avoiding large gatherings, businesses are now forced to seriously consider working from home indefinitely, or introducing more flexible working arrangements in an effort to ensure continuity.
Contemporary businesses have been transitioning towards more flexible working arrangements for years, with the option to work from home given to employees when they need it or want it. The benefits for both employees and employers:
- Office costs reduced
- Increased staff satisfaction and retention
- Environmental benefits
- Higher morale
- Can recruit from a wider area, with less travel required to the office
And, while some employers are concerned that employees will be lazy, unproductive or lie about what they are doing, the opposite is in fact true. Productivity increases exponentially, at least from what we have seen so far.
To sum up:
It can be frustrating, distracting and irritating when your surroundings are too noisy and disruptive, especially when working from home. With a few simple tips, or an investment in proper acoustic treatment, you can drastically improve your working environment. If working from home is a part of your permanent future, why not look into the benefits of good room acoustics.
Understanding acoustics is central what we do. For more information about principles surrounding acoustics and its benefits, visit our newly launched Acoustics Page.