Create versatile meeting spaces with accoustic furniture, meeting booths and pods

acoustic meeting pod

Noise and lack of privacy are common problems in open-plan offices, especially for the introverts on your team. Yet despite this, the open plan office remains the most popular workplace design. In this article we’ll walk you through three different solutions for flexible meeting spaces using accoustic furniture, meeting booths and pods.

In a major study of 1,200 executives, global forecasting and analytics company Oxford Economics concluded that the noise and distractions of open-plan offices are the cause of endemic frustration for employees. And the negative effects didn’t just last for the time people are in the office spilling over into evenings, weekends and even holidays.

The majority of workers said the ability to focus and work uninterrupted was a top priority for them, and they also wanted spaces where they can collaborate easily and effectively with colleagues.

When it came to office design, however, the study revealed that the effects of noise are not treated as a priority, meaning employees have to find ways to deal with ambient noise and lack of privacy, and they’ll end up listening to music on headphones or trying to find quieter areas where they’re more likely to be able to work uninterrupted.

Acoustic furniture, meeting booths and pods are specifically designed to tackle the problems of noise and lack of privacy. Acoustic furniture is designed to mask outside noise, whereas meeting booths and pods are designed to keep conversations confidential and also come with the added benefit of tables, TV screens, power sockets, charging points and pods also have doors!

Acoustic Furniture

Acoustic furniture works by absorbing sounds thanks to a mixture of fibre or foam covered in woven fabric. This is in contrast to hard surfaces such as metal, plastic, glass and wood, which will cause noise to reverberate and bounce back into the room.

The National Institute of Building Services recommends the use of sound-absorbing furniture and screens with a minimum height of 60 inches that has sound-absorbing surfaces on both sides. This includes modular seating, high-backed furniture, wall panels and ceiling-hung panels that will help your staff concentrate on their tasks and improve their productivity.

The more popular acoustic furniture becomes, the greater the variety available, meaning you can get styles that suit your brand, whether you want professional and discreet or loud and funky!

Meeting booths

Meeting booths, on the other hand, are seating pods surrounded by soft panels that work in the same way as acoustic furniture. However, their main use is to provide staff with more private areas where a conversation or phone call won’t be overheard by everyone in the room. You can also have add ons fitted, including tables, audio visual media and a power supply.

Meeting booths are important because open-plan working actually results in people communicating less, not more. It sounds counter intuitive, but in some cases, there was a 70% drop in face-to-face conversation as staff prefer to communicate online via email or messenger apps in order to ‘talk’ more freely without being overheard.

With the addition of meeting booths in the office, your staff will feel far less self-conscious about communicating with each other, and they can hold informal meetings without feeling others are listening in to their conversation, and without the guilt of potentially distracting colleagues who are trying to get on with their work.

So, although acoustic furniture and meeting booths serve different purposes, they are both essential elements of open-plan working in terms of productivity, motivation and staff well-being.

Pods

Pods are enclosed booths that give people more privacy, whether it’s as small as a phone booth style pod which allow people to make calls, a single working pod that’s large enough to house just one desk for someone wanting to concentrate on a task, or meeting room pods.

Pods come with a range of options including glass panels and doors, air con, audio visual media units, attachable tables.

They can be constructed in different shapes, sizes and colours to fit into the space you have available. Whether it’s a cube style for one or a circular pod for 6 or more, pods will improve privacy, motivation and productivity. Unlike traditional partitioned meeting rooms, a pod can also be disassembled and moved to another floor or new premises.

Interested in the range of acoustic furniture we offer? Contact our friendly team to find out more.

Ergonomic seating and the importance of good posture

ergonomic task chairs with boardroom table

Let’s face it, technology makes us slouch! Whether we’re hunched over our phones and tablets on the train or the sofa, or hunched over our keyboards at work, we’ve become a round-shouldered nation. We all know that poor posture is bad for us, but need a bit of encouragement to sit properly. 

The latest figures from the Health & Safety Executive show that, in the UK, there are around 2.2 million working days lost every year because of back disorders. And the latest UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines are clear that: “Periods of inactivity or sedentary behaviour are an independent risk factor for poor health outcomes and should be minimised where possible.”

What we probably fail to appreciate is that back pain caused by poor posture is the result of an accumulative effect, with continued stress leading to problems with muscles, discs, joints and nerves. This is why it’s so important to provide ergonomic seating for your staff and encourage them to take care of their posture, which in turn will improve their musculoskeletal health, leading to fewer problems and reduced absenteeism. 

Slouching does more than just look bad 

At work, we tend to sit forward over our keyboards which makes us strain our necks in order to look at the screen. And that’s why so many of us experience aches and pains in our necks and shoulders, and the consequent changes in the spine can cause back pain through constriction of blood vessels, nerves, muscles, discs and joints. 

And it’s a vicious circle as the slouching posture weakens our body’s core muscles which in turn weakens the standing posture, making things even worse.  

Ergonomic chairs have been specifically designed to support natural posture and give good lumbar and pelvic support. They are fully adjustable so individuals of all heights can customise them to suit their specific needs, and we all get to sit comfortably and well. 

NHS guidance is that the best way to sit is so that the computer screen is at eye level and the back is fully supported. Ideally, legs should be at a 90o angle and feet should be flat on the floor – if this is not the case (i.e. if you’re short), then a footrest is essential. Arms need to be in an L shape with elbows resting by the side. 

With the correct support for backs and arms, you and your employees are far less likely to suffer from bad backs and other problems associated with poor posture. With the resulting increase in productivity, your investment will not only pay for itself in monetary terms, but it will also result in a healthier, more motivated workforce. 

Interested in the range of ergonomic furniture we offer? Contact our friendly team to find out more.

Benefits of Sit Stand Working

sit stand workstation with blue office screen and ergonomic chair

We always say a healthy workforce is a productive workforce, so anything you can do to encourage your team to look after themselves is going to pay dividends in the long run. 

Consider this – in 2017, the British Heart Foundation estimated that around 20 million adults in the UK are insufficiently active and that the resulting health problems cost the NHS around £1.2 billion a year. This figure does not include the loss of income to businesses.

Get Britain Standing 

That’s why health and wellbeing in the workplace has become such a prominent subject recently, and organisations are popping up to encourage employers and employees alike to take better care of themselves. We like campaigns like Get Britain Standing which was set up to raise awareness of the dangers of being sedentary in the workplace. Its aim is to encourage us all to stand and move around more during the day, and it has some sobering statistics to bring to the table.

Get Britain Standing highlights the fact that the dangers of sedentary lifestyles were first researched in the 1950s, when prolonged sitting was found to result in a 64% increased risk of fatal heart problems. It also points to evidence suggesting that even when people who are active outside the office, sitting down for more than four hours every day, can lead to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and even mental health problems. So the gym bunnies and runners aren’t necessarily in the clear. 

When using sit stand desks, the advantages aren’t just health related. At the end of a six-month study of call centre workers, researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health concluded that, over the course of a few months, productivity among those using sit stand desks grew to be around 46% higher than those who were constantly seated. 

Sit Stand Desk Working

In a consensus statement led by Public Health England, it was concluded that in “those occupations which are predominantly desk based, workers should aim to initially progress towards accumulating 2 hours per day of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 hours per day (pro-rated to part-time hours). To achieve this, seated-based work should be regularly broken up with standing-based work, the use of sit–stand desks, or by taking short active standing breaks.”

Using a sit stand desk is a good way to encourage staff not to sit down for long periods of time – it’s not the act of sitting but the length of time we’re sedentary that causes the problems, which include muscle tightness and lower back pain. Switching between sitting and standing throughout the day will alleviate these symptoms. It will also improve blood circulation, which in turn will be beneficial for the heart, helping increase oxygen flow throughout the body, boosting the immune system and keeping our minds sharp! 

Sit Stand Workstations

A sit stand workstation is a device which provides an alternative to sit stand desks where perhaps desks are already in situ. The workstation can be elevated to your desired height to allow users to easily alternate between working in a seated position to a standing position. Options include single or dual monitor arms. The workstation can be raised higher either manually by a lever or at the touch of a button for pre-set heights. 

Interested in the range of sit-stand desks and workstations we offer? Contact our friendly team to find out more.