Today, UK acoustics specialists, Oscar Acoustics, releases the finding from its 2021 research into office-space reconfiguration which surveyed over 200 architects on the challenges faced when transforming workspaces.
With a focus on employee welfare, the survey delivered a damning snapshot of the level of consideration being given to COVID-19 safety measures and acoustic health, which also has the potential to damage the physical and physiological wellbeing of returning workers.
The study found that nearly half of architects’ clients (42%) aren’t interested in ‘end-user health’ when refurbishing offices. This is despite being offered guidance and expertise.
Architects are facing further trials – two in five respondents (40%) highlighted that ‘inadequate budget for the necessary works’ and ‘inflexible existing finishes’ were main challenges when working on office fitouts.
This also extended to excessive noise within offices, an area that can cause adverse health effects, with over two-thirds of architects (67%) citing small design budgets as their biggest design challenge to noise reduction. Just 9% of architects also felt that acoustic design is given the attention it deserves by their clients.
Smaller workplaces are also proving problematic, as nearly a third of architects (29%) placed limited space as a main preventative to ensuring adequate levels of social distancing.
Ben Hancock, Managing Director at Oscar Acoustics, said: “In the wake of the pandemic and with the surge of returning office workers, it’s disappointing to see that some companies are unaware of their responsibility to the health and safety of staff.
“The effects of excessive noise can be a silent killer and its clear that its impact is still being underestimated. Studies have proven that excessive noise can increase the risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes and the rise in office re-fits and refurbishments has given companies a chance to overcome these issues head-on. If businesses are to come back stronger than ever, then it starts with creating the right environment for staff to thrive and feel at ease.”
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