With more Americans working from home than ever, it’s a good idea to think about treating residential spaces to facilitate video meetings and conference calls or for more privacy.
Immediately after the pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020, 35.2% of those who were working were doing so entirely from home, which was up sharply from 8.2% of those employed in February, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says. By August, those figures had reversed or stabilized, but the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says about 1 in 4 people employed in August 2020 teleworked or worked from home for pay because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With so many people working from home, video conferences, Zoom meetings, and privacy (or the lack thereof) have become an essential part of some homeowners’ lives. Homes with open plan interiors and fewer areas for meetings are especially difficult for those working from home.
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Block is an acoustic ceiling baffle system that allows for limitless applications. Available in two distinct profiles, Block’s profile is engineered for imagination, proving that sound absorption is anything but dull. It absorbs approximately twice the amount of sound that hits it depending on baffle spacing. The product is available in three sizes, 30 colorways, and eight wood-inspired textures.
“The current crisis has forced a large portion of the workforce to operate out of their homes,” writes Acoustics First, a company the provides a variety of acoustic products. “Daily Zoom and Skype meetings have become a ubiquitous part of our lives. For many of us, this shift is only temporary. However, some companies are seeing the benefits of working at home, and are making plans to move employees to permanent remote positions.”
That’s where good acoustics can play a role.
“I’m sure all of you have been on a conference call in which a team member’s audio is difficult to understand,” Acoustics First continues. “This could be caused by a microphone or connection issue, but a large number of intelligibility problems are rooted in a room’s acoustics.”
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Motif is a new collection of acoustic lighting design. Taking the design solutions for acoustic lighting one step further, Motif offers playful and geometric-inspired patterns to help designers add personality and dimension to their spaces, the company says. The collection is available in an initial collection of three different patterns — Dazzle, Lines, and Moon — that can be applied to a range of PET colors with various ink options.
Common acoustic issues in the home, the company says, include background noise, reverberation, and flutter echoes. Reverberation is the sound energy that remains in a listening environment as a result of lingering reflections, while flutter echo is caused by parallel reflective surfaces, which can degrade conference call clarity, Acoustics First says.
To deal with background noise, Acoustics First recommends installing full perimeter seals and door sweeps to improve sound isolation in a room. If you have sound transmitting through a wall, ceiling, or floor, you can add a layer of mass loaded vinyl to the assembly in order to help block unwanted airborne noise. Homeowners can address reverberation issues with the addition of “fluffy” or irregular furnishings, acoustic panels, rugs, curtains, and plants.
“Flutter echoes can greatly degrade conference call clarity,” Acoustics First says. “This phenomenon can occur between two walls or floor to ceiling. To control flutter echoes in your office, you should break up any parallel surfaces with furnishings and/or sound absorptive treatment.”
The Mura Tile collection is a quick and easy way to add sound solutions to a space, the company says. Tiles are lightweight and highly sound absorbent, thanks to their hollow backing. They can be easily installed using the speed clip system and come in wide variety of muted and vibrant colors and different design patterns.
Long available for commercial projects such as movie theaters, concert halls, and recording studios, a variety of acoustic products are now open to homeowners to help overcome sound issues in their home offices. Some products were designed for the commercial world, but they are also residential friendly and can be adapted to the home.
Kirei USA, for example, developed the Mura Tiles collection as a quick and easy sound solution. The thermoformed tiles are lightweight and highly sound absorbent, thanks to their hollow backing, the company says. Tiles interlock with one another to form a pattern on the wall, and install with a clip system that allows them to be rotated and changed. They come in a variety of colors and designs.
Turf Design, a manufacturer of custom acoustic solutions, has launched two new designs that the company says adds a design element as well as minimizes excess noise. Reed wall panels and Block ceiling baffles, the company explains, approach acoustics with design in mind, fusing texture and visual interest with performance capabilities.
Melody is a sound-absorbing recycled polyester acoustic panel collection that is available in four models. The panels are made of post-consumer waste from recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, ensuring a low impact on the environment. Lightweight but durable, Melody panels are mold and fungal resistant. Available in custom sizes and shapes, designers can choose from a selection of available finishes that include white polyester, fabric wrapped, painted, custom printed, and felt.
“As industry leaders begin to reshape the interiors of their organizational spaces, the issue of villainous echoes and noise becomes more eminent,” says Rob Perri, president of Turf. “Our performance fosters a sense of peace and quiet, as the Reed Wall Panel and Block Ceiling Baffle soothe sound while helping to create groundbreaking ambiences.”
Trade pros can can even use lighting that incorporate acoustic properties. BuzziSpace says it continues to strengthen its vision for happier, healthier workspaces and beyond with the introduction of two new all-in-one acoustic lighting offerings: BuzziCone and BuzziJet Standing.
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BuzziCone is a minimal yet innovative pendant light with noise-reducing capabilities. Named after its distinctive conic appearance, BuzziCone features a playful, elegant body covered in soft BuzziFelt, and a warm light, making it the perfect ‘all-in-one’ addition to any setting. Available in a wide range of striking BuzziFelt colors and with three different configurations.
Conceived in response to the growing challenges in open-plan workspaces (or even open-plan living spaces) BuzziCone and BuzziJet Standing function as solutions that offer high-quality light output and exceptional noise-reduction capabilities. Abiding by its “no boundaries” philosophy, the new solutions offer the versatility needed for every space, whether it’s a meeting room, home office, or home library, the company says. Both designs also feature the opportunity to match the fabric with existing furnishings and décor.
No matter what system or products you use, the strategy should be the same. The idea, says acoustic tile manufacturer Felt Right, is to change the balance of the materials in the space by covering some of the hard surfaces with soft, sound-absorbing materials. “Every bit counts, and the more you add, the more the acoustics of the room will change.”
Made from at least 50% recycled content, the Admiral Blank Board adds texture, warmth, and acoustics to any wall, the brand says. It has a chamfered edges that make seams virtually disappear and is made from tackable, durable, semi-rigid PET felt. The tiles have an NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) of 35 and can absorb as much sound as one-inch thick polyurethane foam. It comes in a wide selection of colors.