Sound advice Featured

9:05am EDT March 31, 2003
Phones, copiers, fax machines, not to mention the loudmouth next to you yapping about his weekend, creates a cacophony that can distract employees or interrupt a meeting.

You don't have to seal yourself in a bank vault to get some peace and quiet, says Cullen Roth, president of Working Walls Inc., an acoustical and tackable wall panel manufacturer in Brooklyn Heights.

"Sound is like water," he says. "It will keep going until it hits something. It will go around corners, over cubicles, through things. If your door is open, your office is not acoustically sound."

Apart from outfitting your office with acoustical wall panels, Roth offers the following tips to make your office sound better.

* Although hardwood floors and exposed ceilings are visually-pleasing, they turn an office into an echo chamber. Carpeting and a drop ceiling are the most basic, and most effective, sound blockers.

* Move the copiers, fax machines and other noisy machines to a special room to isolate the sound nuisance.

* Think about office layout in terms of sound. For example, don't put the office conference room next to the wall that adjoins the restroom or cafeteria. The noise will bleed through the walls.

* Glass, metal and other hard surfaces don't absorb sound well. Use curtains, blinds or wall hangings for better room acoustics.

* Workstation walls of higher than five feet offer ideal sound protection.

* Some people just have louder voices than others. Those with more powerful vocal chords should position themselves away from doorways or other openings where they might disturb others.

* If two or more employees share an office, face them away from each other.

How to reach: Working Walls, (216) 749-7850 or www.workingwalls.com.