Providing the best office environment for staff to feel comfortable and productive can be a challenge. Modern office design means that office space is increasingly open plan. Without careful forethought, this can be synonymous with ‘noisy’ and disruptive. When ‘open plan’ is combined with minimalist design, incorporating glass and other hard surfaces, the acoustic properties of new buildings can be problematic for their occupants. Sound resonates around the building.
To counter this, companies are increasingly setting aside rooms for audio or video conferencing to provide quiet areas where calls or virtual meetings can take place uninterrupted. Often little thought is given the acoustic properties of these rooms. They are typically spaces tucked away in a ‘quiet’ area. Unfortunately, this in itself is insufficient to provide the ideal conferencing environment. Even the best conferencing equipment cannot compensate for poor room acoustics where sound echoes.
In this case study, we look at how Enterprise Rent-A-Car worked with us to address their building acoustic needs.
Matt Folkemer, Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s European Operations Manager explained that their business has been growing at such a pace that,
“Some three years ago we recognised that our existing European headquarters would not provide the floor area needed to accommodate our growing workforce.”
After a thorough evaluation of all the options, Enterprise Rent-A-Car decided that taking on a second building adjacent to their existing HQ would be the best value solution for the business. They engaged a design and build company to complete the building works. Matt was well aware that some of the areas in the new building would need specialist acoustic treatment. Specifically, he wanted to pay particular attention to the open plan offices, meeting rooms and break out areas, where noise can travel and be intrusive.
Matt explained: “We originally found Communications Solutions UK (CSUK) through WEConnect, a partner that we use for engaging with diverse suppliers. CSUK have been able to support us in a number of areas, both tactical and strategic. In this project, it was their expertise and abilities around the acoustic environment that have proven especially important to us.
CSUK identified problem areas in the building based on a scientific approach that involved measurement and calculation. With these findings, they designed a solution to achieve the right acoustic performance levels that met both our requirements and budget.”
There were many aspects to the design. Attractive absorption wall panels were added to meeting rooms. These remove around 60% of reverberated sound. This ensures clarity of calls for both the local and remote parties. Ceiling islands were suspended in the training centre break out area to dampen noise. These prevent the chatter during breaks being heard by those still at work in adjacent training rooms.
Finally, a digital sound masking solution was installed throughout the building. This has multiple zones to provide customised controls for different parts of the building. Acoustic levels are set according to need. This means that the entrance atrium, staff restaurant and office space can be tailored to deliver the required ambient noise level.
CSUK’s design and delivery service from sound masking, absorption walls and ceiling islands has ensured that noise is managed. More importantly to Enterprise rent-a-car’s success, conversations remain private and confidential, staff are focussed and benefit from a better working environment.
The investment in the acoustic treatment of Crawford House, Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s new flagship building, has immediately shown a pay-back. Staff can focus on their work without noise distraction, ensuring that their wellbeing and productivity are high.