How to reduce noise in an open space? This question arises more and more often, at the beginning of the 21st century, as the number of call centers, and also the open plan offices and coworking spaces (to which reference is often made by using the English term almost everywhere) for which multi-occupied spaces i.e. shared desktops are very popular.

Collaborative work, which is often considered to be favored when performed in such an environment (which is perhaps not enough of a hindsight to say that this is a absolute truth in all contexts and for all individuals), is then likely to create a particular soundscape, resulting in particular from the accumulation of noises that are not only those produced at a given workstation, being also those of neighboring workstations, either near or far, in the same workspace.

To reduce the noise in an open space is necessary so as not to be disturbed, during the accomplishment of its tasks, by displacements, ringtones of telephone, conversations and discussions which do not concern us, but which are inflicted on us - if nothing is done so that we do not hear them too much -. Because the auditory perception is obviously not a voluntary action when one is distracted by the more or less noisy activity (most of the time: professional) of one’s office neighbors e.g. for administrative works, for engineering works, sales, after sales (hotlines) or others.

To reduce the noise in an open space, it is first necessary to be concerned about whether the walls are sufficiently (in quality, in relation to their absorption coefficient, which depends on the frequency, and in quantity i.e. in number of m2) covered with sound-absorbing materials to limit the effect of reverberation, which would increase - other things being equal - ambient noise levels (at the risk of implying that those who speak raise their voices to be heard, which is an endlessly iterative process).

Suspended ceilings or baffles and wall coverings are often used in such cases (there is something for every preference and for every budget): ITS markets them with or without installation, after having selected them in connection with the acoustic imperatives and with the other aspects of the project (e.g. decoration and adequacy with the architectural party if there is one, fire resistance, methods of implementation, …).

Reverberation time and spatial decay rate are two usual indicators of the acoustic quality of offices or associated spaces as envisaged in a dedicated standard that is not mandatory: their measurement (that ITS can perform as part of an effort to reduce noise in an open space) is often a good starting point since it allows to assess the extent of the problem, if there is one.

It may also be necessary, to reduce the noise in an open space, to limit the spread of noise emissions between workstations, by interposing screens (sometimes called noise barriers, dividers,panels, with qualifiers such as acoustics, absorbents, phonics etc.), whose effectiveness is related to the physical phenomenon of diffraction, and which can usefully also be provided with a mineral wool filling covered with a fabric which can absorb sound. At the height of man and placed on the ground these acoustic screens will be on legs or on wheels (and able - being modular - to constitute partitions, flexible to adapt in case of need, to the reorganizations of the open space); less high, they will be fixed on the desks. ITS has designed and is marketing a range of acoustical screens including equipment with or without glazing, with colors that are suitable for all visual environments.

Reducing noise in an open space is a problem that may concern an architect, a project manager (especially at the time of the design or construction of a building), an owner of a premise or even its users , if one or the other are sensitized to the acoustic comfort of the space which is considered.

ITS performs acoustic measurements and proposes solutions (soundproofing materials, sound insulation works) to reduce noise in an open space.