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Echo Barrier Blog

Don’t let staff health and wellbeing fall on deaf ears

Posted by Tom Peary on May 24, 2017 10:40:00 AM | acoustic barriers

The WELL Building Standard, originally introduced in the US, is steadily gaining importance in the design of UK office buildings. Here, to mark the Health and Wellbeing at Work event (6th-7th March), we take a look at one key element of the project – acoustics.  

The intent of the WELL Building Standard is to produce workplaces which have a positive impact on human behaviours related to health and wellbeing. It covers things you would expect, such as the nutrition, fitness and cognitive and emotional health of building occupants but in doing so also explores air quality, light and of course acoustics.  

Making a noise The biggest cost to any business is its people. Therefore, anything done to reduce sickness, improve productivity and enhance workplace satisfaction becomes a crucial investment. That is the basic reasoning behind the WELL Building Standard – which is backed up by buckets of research. After all, did you know studies have shown that distracting noise can contribute up to a 66% decline in performance on office-related tasks? So, surely creating a more peaceful environment is an easy win? You can begin with an acoustic planning exercise to identify loud and quiet zones, and noisy equipment. This helps you to design space intelligently to minimise disturbance and distraction. We would also recommend that reducing exterior noise intrusion such as traffic noise and plant noise in line with current design standards is best practice.  

Putting it into practice Cundall, international multi-disciplinary consulting engineers, have a designated acoustics team with significant experience in all aspects of noise and vibration, covering site planning, infrastructure, architecture and engineering. It aims to create better environments, whether that is by improving occupant satisfaction or ensuring our solution has a positive effect on the external environment. Cundall were quick to adopt the WELL Building Standard when it was introduced because it understood that environment had a direct impact on wellbeing and wanted to work to provide environments which promote and enhance the health and wellbeing of the building occupants so that they can flourish. Its research found that in healthy office environments, productivity increases, absenteeism reduces and concentration improves.  

Sound and success The behaviour of sound in the workplace is key to its success. People need to be able to communicate, hold private conversations and concentrate, often all in the same open space. Obviously, internal acoustics is not what we do. But we are instrumental in protecting the hearing of office workers disturbed by construction sites, events and venues nearby and protecting workers on those sites through the use of our acoustic barriers.

So, the WELL Building Standard is something we whole-heartedly embrace – ensuring people’s hearing is protected wherever they are.   During this Health and Wellbeing at Work event we urge you to review the impact of noise on your office environment and put your workers first and foremost. We think you will reap the rewards in the long run.

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