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The ABCs of acoustics: how acoustic furniture improves focus in a noisy office

Pull your socks up and get ready to listen because in this blog post, we’re taking you back to school. Don’t worry, we aren’t going to make you recite your times tables or study Shakespeare but we are going to be talking all things ABCs. The ABCs of acoustics that is.

Shh… says The Privacy Crisis

These days, open plan workspaces, reconfigurable furniture and agile working are all taking the commercial design scene by storm. Traditional settings have been sat in the shadows of more flexible ways of working for a good while now, until more recently when The Privacy Crisis reared its problematic head.

Where there’s modern creativity and interior innovation in abundance, there is often a notable lack of peace and quiet for those who prefer to work in more private settings. Open plan spaces, impromptu meetings and breakout areas are all important features of modern workplace design but by their very nature, mean excess noise is more difficult (and sometimes impossible) to contain.

With increased noise levels, it may come as little surprise to hear that in a recent study by the University of California, it was found that the average office worker is interrupted or distracted every 3 minutes. While more companies are becoming increasing open to spaces that support collaboration and creative thinking, this shouldn’t come at the expense of areas designed for private and focused work. Spaces that support concentration should be no further down the priority list than a collaborative space when considering your next office fit out.

In order to afford more private workspaces and optimum concentration levels for a diverse range of employees and their individual ways of working, you need to make sure you know your ABCs of acoustics…

What are the ABCs of acoustics?

When picking out your acoustic office furniture, you need to become familiar with your ABCs. If you’re working with us on your workspace design or office refurb, we would send one of our acoustic specialists in at this point to carry out a noise assessment in order to diagnose a combination of the three types of acoustic solution to suit you and your requirements.


Perhaps the most familiar solution when it comes to acoustical engineering in the workplace is A for Absorb. This refers to the complete ‘soaking up’ of unwanted sound that might be reflecting off hard, reflective surfaces such as marble, concrete, metal, glass, plastic or wood. Seeing as an industrial aesthetic and the use of raw, organic materials are some of the hottest commercial interior design trends for 2018 and 2019, sound absorbent furniture might just be about to become your new best friend.


B symbolises the blocking of excess noise without fully removing it from the space completely. As we mentioned earlier, the open plan workspaces that many companies are now tending towards mean noise levels are more problematic than before. Incorporating office furniture products or acoustic solutions that will help stop soundwaves in their tracks is a great way to combat noise when there isn’t a door to shut or a meeting room to escape to. Think divisions, partitions, dividers, totems, blinds and vertical barriers – but more on that in just a moment.


‘Cover’ is basically just a less eloquent way of describing sound-masking. Where absorption or blocking isn’t proving to be effective, or where privacy rather than noise level is the issue, masking sounds with another dimension of noise might be the answer.

By this we don’t mean turning the radio up or creating a racket in order to distract customers or staff from a confidential conversation – here we’re referring to engineered background noise that can be played out through sound systems in the floor or ceiling of your workspace. The sound matches the frequency of voices in order to aid privacy and support concentration for focused work.

So how does acoustic furniture help you focus at work?

So now you’ve got your ABCs down to a T, it’s time to take a quick look at just some ways in which acoustic solutions can help boost productivity and concentration in the workplace…

  • Products like The Den Range can provide a barrier between people, tasks and specific noises to help define space in an open plan setting.
  • Products like Under the Bell lighting provide a sense of psychological space and seclusion even when this isn’t possibly physically.
  • Acoustic solutions like BuzziTotem absorb and block excess noise to minimise distraction for employees.
  • Furniture such as the popular BuzziMe chairs provides a place for workers to go when they want complete privacy as well as peace and quiet to concentrate on focused work.
  • Providing these means of privacy and concentration will also improve mental wellbeing in the workplace as staff can avoid becoming frustrated with their noisy environment.

For more images or in-depth information about the products pictured in this blog post, click here. Alternatively, you can get in touch with one of our experts who would be more than happy to talk you through your options.

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