Many of us who own or work in a consulting firm have been there: We do everything we can to make sure our clients’ personal information is safe and secure. We train staff in confidentiality, we purchase expensive cabinets to house client records and related documentation, and we may even have an electronic medical records system in order to be in compliance with all privacy laws. . But then, sitting in our office, we notice that we can practically hear the clinician’s heartbeat in the office next door.
How can we maintain privacy for our customers if the sound transfer is so bad?
If you’re building or remodelling, there’s a lot you can do, and we’ll explore some of those ideas in a bit. But what if you already have an office and you can’t afford or don’t have the right to do a complete remodel? Fear not, there are a few steps you can take to reduce sound transfer without breaking the bank. The best part is that most of them are easily undone if you leave your current digs.
White noise machine or radio:
Placing a white noise machine or radio in waiting rooms will reduce the ability of others to hear what is being said in your office. These items can be placed in the council office itself if necessary, depending on the level of sound transfer.
Rugs: If you can’t wall-to-wall carpeting, then throw rugs can help absorb noise. A thick mat is best, but be sure to consider tripping hazards and customer mobility. Wheelchairs, canes, and walkers do well on flat surfaces, while shag or lint carpets can impact mobility, so think about that before you buy.
Do not orient the seats directly towards the door as this will direct sound towards the door opening, which is the most vulnerable place in most offices. Instead, place the seats facing a wall so that the sound is directed towards the walls rather than the door openings. This will reduce the amount of sound transfer from vulnerable spaces in the door area. This is especially key if you have a hollow core door.
Fabric placements: Curtains or wall hangings can help absorb sound and reduce transfer. Also add pillows to the furniture – the more the better, as long as they don’t get in the way.
If your office has suspended ceilings, you can put insulation above the ceiling tiles to help reduce sound transfer.
Wait times: One way to reduce the chances of people hearing what is happening in the clinical office is simple and free: Stagger session times so that a session is likely to be over before the clinician arrives. next customer. It works regardless of the number of desks and only requires a little coordination.
Building or redesigning offices with sound in mind
You can rent or lease a building that allows you to build an office that suits your needs. In some cases, the owner of the building may even assume part or all of the costs. In other cases, you will own the building and can redevelop it as you wish, provided you follow building codes and obtain the appropriate permits. Whether you’re doing the work yourself or just supervising the project, here are some things to keep in mind to reduce sound transfer and increase overall privacy.
Acoustical Substitutes for Wall Panels: In some areas it may be advantageous to skip the traditional wall panels (Sheetrock) and instead use one of the specialist acoustic panels on the market. Each of these offers superior soundproofing, but they can be expensive (five to ten times the material cost of traditional wall panels). In all the offices that I have transformed, we have opted to use these products once, on a single very sensitive wall.
Acoustic mastic, sealant, etc.
Often used with the substitute panel, acoustic caulk is used to seal around any. Cutouts in the panel, such as power outlets, light fixtures, etc. The sealant is applied to all wall studs and any surface the wallboard will come into contact with. It reduces sound transmission. I’ve only used it in the most problematic areas where I’ve used acoustic wall panels.
Solid Core Doors
Although more expensive than hollow core doors, solid core doors offer more sound deadening/deflecting sound. Some solid core doors are made of solid wood, while others offer a composite interior designed to further block sound. The choice is yours, as both have a lot to offer. If your office is very problematic, doors designed to block sound are the solution. During recent remodels, we chose to install pre-assembled exterior doors with weatherstripping for our offices. Although they are designed to keep air out, they also offer superior. Soundproofing compared to general interior doors that are on the market.
Hardwood floors or other hard surfaces look great and can last a lifetime compared to. Wall-to-wall carpeting, but carpeting does more to absorb sound than hard surfaces.
If the walls have not yet been built or are going to be opened up, sound insulation is essential. Materials for an average sized desk will cost hundreds of dollars but will also provide the most effective soundproofing. When constructing new walls, building codes may allow 24 inches spacing between studs.
However, it is often much more cost effective to stick to 16 inch spacing on the centre. Which means that each wall stud is installed 16 inches apart from. The one after it, measured from the centre of the stud. . This is the most commonly used spacing for walls that are insulated. As such, the cost of insulation for 16 inches is much cheaper.