How Acoustic Lighting Can Improve a Modern Office Setting
Karen Lopez explains how acoustic lighting can come to the aide of open plan office design by improving acoustics and privacy.
Modern open-plan offices are great for promoting cooperation and communication among team members. It is known to boost team spirit and build a positive company culture.
However, one of the downsides of these contemporary offices is poor acoustics. Imagine trying to work when other team members are having casual conversations, typing on keyboards, or conversing on phone.
Further, a Harvard Business Review article confirms that lack of privacy has disastrous effects on employee morale.
Such distractions can hurt workplace productivity and employee experience.
No wonder, an increasing number of businesses are looking to improve their workspace acoustics. One of the sure-shot ways of achieving this is through acoustic lighting.
Modern offices are increasingly applying acoustic lighting because it’s known to soften sound and reduce reverberations.
Read on to know how lighting can address acoustic issues. But before that, let’s understand the science of sound.
How Do Sound Waves Travel?
In an area like an open-plan workspace, sound from the source travels through the surrounding area. When these waves come across an obstruction, such as a wall or a partition, a part gets absorbed and the rest is reflected. The reflected waves will continue to travel till they hit another surface.
When such sound waves are generated from multiple sources, it adds to the unpleasant noise in the room, referred to as reverberation. The higher the reverberation the longer it takes for the sound to fade.
Rooms with hard and reflective surfaces are more susceptible to reverberation. Hence, for improved acoustics, office spaces should avoid such surfaces.
That’s where acoustics lighting can help!
What Is Acoustic Lighting?
Acoustic lighting is lighting that works in harmony with acoustics and aesthetics. Simply put, the lighting not just looks good and illuminates a space but also reduces excessive background noise.
The lighting fixtures use recyclable materials and acoustic panels that are proven to absorb sound waves, thereby positively influencing comfort and concentration.
Acoustic lighting is especially effective in open spaces, meeting rooms, conference rooms, and office lobbies. It also works perfectly in rooms with high ceilings where noise absorption and functional illumination are central.
Components of Acoustic Lighting
All acoustic luminaires use energy-efficient LED lighting modules. Most of them have two-directional lighting with a 1% dimming capability.
Moreover, the acoustic material (sound-absorbing) used is 40% recycled polyethene terephthalate (PET) Sola felt. Other sound-absorbing materials like a wide range of fabrics, foams, or pulps are also used.
These acoustic materials are available in a variety of colours, patterns, and lengths. As a result, the lighting is highly customizable as per the room dimension and existing decor.
So, the LED lighting fixtures are wrapped in acoustic material for sound absorption. These fixtures can be surface mounted, suspended, or recessed.
How Do Acoustic Luminaires Work?
As mentioned earlier, higher reverberation is related to more noise in the room. Sound waves are reflected, transmitted, and absorbed, thus adding to the noise in a room. In sharp contrast to this, acoustic luminaires absorb, block, and cover up the sound waves.
These lighting fixtures are covered with a soft and porous material like felt, foam, recycled polyester or wool, that absorbs sound waves.
Sound absorption is nothing but the reduction of reverberation time (continuation of sound after its source has stopped).
Moreover, lighting fixtures in offices and public spaces are usually out of the direct visual field, thereby reducing the reflection of sound. If these fixtures are placed in proximity to walls and ceilings, the sound-absorbing effect is better. That’s because the sound waves tend to get trapped between the sound-absorbing surfaces.
Benefits of Incorporating Acoustic Lighting at Workplaces
Looking into the benefits offered by acoustic lighting, several architectural lighting manufacturers are coming up with innovative and integrated solutions for workspaces. These include acoustical ceiling and lighting systems that not just offer optimal illumination but also cancel excessive noise.
To sum up, here’s why you should consider investing in acoustic lighting.
It offers perfect illumination at workspaces, thereby upholding a productive environment for employees.
It reduces noise pollution at the workplace, thus enabling people to focus on their tasks.
It prevents the transmission of sound waves which not only ensures a quiet environment but also upholds privacy.
Acoustic lighting fixtures are available in a wide range of colours and patterns. Hence, it can be incorporated into any decor to create an aesthetically pleasing work environment.
Lighting and colours are strong decor elements that enhance the brand image. These lighting fixtures can be used to strengthen brand identity. Incorporating brand colours will foster a positive brand image and employee experience.
The materials used in acoustic luminaires are environmentally friendly, thus reducing your carbon footprint. For instance, the LED lighting used is highly energy-efficient and the acoustic material is recyclable.
Modern workplaces fluidly cycle between the need for effortless collaboration and focused solo work. Applying acoustic lighting to contemporary office spaces can help overcome unforeseen acoustic challenges while upholding a productive and motivating environment for all.
When implemented suitably acoustic luminaires can create a perfect work environment for all. In the coming years, you can expect an increasing number of offices and shared workspaces adopting them.