How to reduce noise in an open plan office

How to reduce noise in an open plan office

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7 DAYS A WEEK 8.30AM - 7.00PM

This year has had a significant impact on how office-based businesses operate. While many staff continue to work remotely, there are workforces across the country who are still travelling into the office.

With many office desks still in use, and this likely to increase as restrictions lift, do you find yourself distracted by unwanted office noise? The open plan office design embraced by small businesses and larger enterprises across the country can come at a price – unwanted distractions, noise, and reduced productivity.

If youre finding noise a problem at your place of work, weve compiled several tips on how to reduce noise in an open plan office.

Do you have an office noise problem?

It may seem peculiar, but in many cases, office staff alongside managers and business owners are often unaware that they have a noise problem in their office.

Employees have varying tolerance and sensitivity levels to background noise, which will also change depending on the task at hand and the level of concentration required.

Noise is defined as unwanted sound and can take several forms:

  • Conversational noise: This type of noise includes conversations while the kettle boils, at the water cooler, meeting and breakout areas and colleagues having telephone conversations. Conversational noise can be highly distracting and, once multiplied across a large open-plan office, can become intolerable.
  • Machinery noise: From photocopiers to scanners, kettles and printers to dishwashers, offices are often filled with tech that often causes unwanted noise.
  • External noise: If your office is based next to a workshop, factory, garage or other business working environments, this can lead to further distractions. This kind of acoustic noise disturbances can prevent clear-thinking, decision-making and lead to decreased productivity.

To help protect office workers and reduce unwanted noise, try our handy tips below.

Office screens

Office screens, when placed cleverly, are an effective way to deflect and successfully break up noise in an open plan office.

There are countless office screens available, in a variety of sizes and colours to match your office dcor, company branding and preferences. Floor standing partitions also add flexibility, particularly if in the future you relocate to different premises or if your office has a move around.

Double mounted screens

Embrace nature

Getting your green-fingered colleagues to help choose office plants is a great way to help reduce open office noise. Plants not only look bright and add a pop of colour and greenery to your office space, but they will help reduce noise, too.

You could even look into having an eye-catching living wall to bring the outdoors in and deflect plenty of distracting noise.

Office with plants blocking noise

Isolating equipment

As we mentioned above, machinery noise can lead to lower productivity in the office. Items like printers and photocopiers are not only noisy, but can naturally become a place where colleagues congregate, which can lead to conversation and increased noise disturbances. Isolate this noisy equipment into one area and ensure it is partitioned from the main office. This will help to significantly reduce noise levels.

Mobile curved screens

Dedicated quiet spaces

In open plan office, as in any workplace, it is important to have a dedicated quiet place. Whether this is to focus on a tricky piece of work, have a private meeting or take a personal call, a dedicated calm place where staff can concentrate will help boost productivity, wellbeing and reduce noise in the main office area.

Discover our wide range of stylish breakout seating here.

Wyspa acoustic pod

Sound friendly furniture

When choosing office furniture for the open plan space, opting for high backed benches or enclosed booths will act as effective room separators and reduce noise.

Office pods are also an effective and stylish way to significantly reduce noise, add privacy and keep distractions to a minimum.

High back acoustic seating

Divide spaces with acoustic panels

Dividing an office space with acoustic panels is a great way to reduce office noise. The panels can also be used to segregate different areas of the office. There are some great looking panel designs that can improve the look of an office while dampening the nose.

Allsfar Lull suspended acoustic panels

Suspended acoustic ceiling panels

While additional office screens and soft furnishings may seem like the obvious remedy to a noisy open plan office, the ceiling is often overlooked as solution to decreasing noise. Acoustic ceiling panels, suspended for an the existing ceiling can offer a great looking option to further reduce sound.

Acoustic ceiling panels are available in an exciting range of designs that provide visual interest to often dull looking ceilings. These panels are easily retro-fitted to ceilings (and suspension kits are included). Bespoke sizes are available to fit within any office space.

Allsfar leaf ceiling acoustic panels

Decorative acoustic wall shapes

Decorative wall mounted acoustic panels are a great way to add some colour to an open plan office while reducing noise. Modern wall panels are lightweight and easy to install with the use of heavy duty Velcro strips. The wall shapes can be mixed and matched to create unique patterns and finishes.

Multi-coloured decorative acoustic shapes reducing noise on an office wall

Office layout planning

If you are hoping to reduce the amount of noise in your open plan office, it is imperative that the above ideas are carefully considered, thought out and executed to maximise their benefits.

To ensure minimal noise disruption and increased productivity is achieved by your workforce in the changes you implement, office layout planning is essential.

At BT Office Furniture we have our own in-house office space planning and design department, complete with expert 2D space planners and 3D visual artists. Contact us today to demonstrate how we can transform you open plan office to reap the rewards for your entire workforce.

Why choose BT Office Furniture?

BT Office has been a leading UK office furniture supplier since 1994. We use our own fleet of vehicles and team of specialist fitters to ensure your modern and executive office furniture arrives undamaged and is installed by people who are familiar with the products.

If youre looking to reorganise your open plan office and increase staff productivity, check out our full range of furniture today for inspiration or contact our expert team who are on hand and happy to help with your enquiry.

How to organise your office desk

How to organise your office desk

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7 DAYS A WEEK 8.30AM - 7.00PM

The impact of COVID-19 on businesses and workforces is unquestionable. As many offices remain closed under latest government restrictions, countless office staff continue to adapt to working from home.

Whether youre based at home or working in the office, a well-organised workspace is key to increasing productivity, improving focus and helping to reduce stress.

Weve compiled a host of top tips to having a perfectly organised desk that will be the envy of your colleagues and help to transform your working day.

Personal space

It is common to fall victim of using office desks as a dumping ground, especially for personal items. There are items that find their way onto our office desks daily, such as mobile phone, keys, wallets or purses. While essential, personal possessions can easily clutter up your space throughout the day and lead to unhealthy and unproductive distractions.

Select a designated desk area where your essential personal items can permanently live, such as a drawer or shelf. This not only declutters your space, but means you always know where to find them.

Reduce distractions

With an increasing number of employees working from home, the potential for day-to-day distractions is higher.

Whenever possible, remove any item from your office desk that is going to cause unnecessary distractions. Keep your phone out of sight in a drawer or in a defined area that wont tempt you to check messages or take unrelated work calls. Reducing distractions will pave the way for increased efficiency and more productive working hours.

Throw away unnecessary items

Ever heard of the phrase Tidy desk, tidy mind? If you are looking to create a well-organised desk, the starting point is to be ruthless and dispose of unnecessary items. Go through each item in your desk and ask yourself if it is essential. From paperwork to old notebooks, dried up pens to disregarded Post-It notes, there is sure to be a host of items that can be disposed of to clear much-needed space. Ensure essential items are kept together and ordered appropriately.

Disposing of unnecessary items and doing this regularly will de-clutter your workspace and pave the way for clarity and clearer thinking.

Uncluttered office deck with plant

Daily desk hygiene

The current climate calls for desk hygiene to be top priority, however, it is also essential to aid positive wellbeing.

Adopt a desk hygiene routine by wiping your desk down at the end of each day before leaving your workplace or home office. This daily ritual will force you to put away paperwork, files or any other items left on your desktop, and will ensure you return to your desk each morning with a clean workspace and fresh start.

Rid your space of cables

When we think of cluttered workspaces, we are often focused on desktops. However, it is important to acknowledge that what lies underneath your desk should also be addressed and properly organised, such as cables.

Tangled cables are unsightly, are likely to cause a distraction as well as being a potential trip hazard. Minimise the risk of distraction by tying up loose cables and tuck them out of sight with effective desk cable management.

Avoid tangled cables and ensure theyre in the right place. Weve compiled our own guide on cable management.

Segment your desk

While it is likely that the majority of the day will be spent on your computer, it is important to have desk areas sectioned off for non-computer tasks. From reading files and documents to mapping out tasks and to-do lists, segmenting your desk will help achieve clear-cut organisation and help keep your thoughts in order.

Keep a notebook to hand

Weve all been there; taking an unexpected call or having that lightbulb moment in a meeting and not being able to jot the idea down. Not everything can go straight into an email or digital document, so its always handy to keep a notebook on standby to quickly write down tasks, to-dos, reminders or moments of inspiration.

Tidy desk with notepad

Use a rubbish bin

It might seem simple but investing in a recycling rubbish bin and placing this either next to your desk or underneath it will transform your workspace from cluttered to pristine.

Ensure any notes and documents you no longer need are instantly thrown in the bin and recycled appropriately. Getting into the routine of doing this will avoid paper piles building up and will get you into the healthy habit of discarding unnecessary documents regularly. If they contain sensitive information, we always recommend shredding documents before recycling.

Prioritise by importance

With so many desk items frequently cluttering up space, it can become challenging to decipher which ones are needed most frequently.

Use your office desk and drawers to prioritise items by importance. Place the things you use most frequently in the drawer nearest to you, and place what you least use in the bottom drawer or under your desk, tidied furthest away. Items that arent used as often could be placed in a separate cupboard or drawer to free-up valuable space and help you to also maintain a clutter-free brain.

Why choose BT Office Furniture?

BT Office has been a leading UK office furniture supplier since 1994. We use our own fleet of vehicles and team of specialist fitters to ensure your modern and executive office furniture arrives undamaged and is installed by people who are familiar with the products.

If youre looking to reorganise your office and give it a new lease of life, check out our full range of furniture today for inspiration or contact our expert team who are on hand and happy to help with your enquiry.

Corner desk buying guide

Corner desk buying guide

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7 DAYS A WEEK 8.30AM - 7.00PM

Offices come in all shapes and sizes. The key to creating a productive and inviting office space is to choose your furniture wisely.

From desks and meeting pods through to seating solutions and storage, theres lots to consider when it comes to creating an effective working space that will suit your business and working needs.

And of course, no work or home office is complete without a sturdy, functional and comfortable desk to work from.

If youre looking for the perfect corner desk, youve certainly landed in the right place. Our corner desk buying guide should help you to find the ideal corner desk for your office environment.

A dark wood corner desk in a relaxed office setting

Corner desks

If youre tight on space or youre trying to optimise the space you have available, corner desks are a great option, as they are far less intrusive than traditional shaped desks. Ideal for accommodating awkward spaces, corner desks are perfect for work and home office environments.

Just because corner desks tend to have a little less surface space than traditional options, it doesnt mean that youll have to compromise on storage. The vast majority of corner desks have lots of integrated storage solutions for stationary, important paperwork, and any other office essentials that you need to hand during your working day.

What to consider when buying a corner desk

Corner desks are best suited to small offices or home office environments with limited or awkward space. Before you choose the perfect corner office desk, theres a lot you will need to consider, including the below factors:

  • Will the desk fit in your working space? Always be sure to measure.
  • Will the desk accommodate your equipment needs?
  • Does the corner desk promote a healthy posture?
  • Can the desk be moved easily?
  • Does the desk offer plenty of storage space?
  • What is the desk made from will it last?

A stand-up corner desk

Small, medium and large corner desks

Whether youre on the hunt for a small, medium or large corner desk, you will find a wide range of designs that will accommodate your needs.

If youre working with a large space, a large corner desk is ideal, providing plenty of surface space. However, if you have a smaller space, there are also plenty of medium and smaller corner desks available.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should always take accurate dimensions of the room you will be working in, ensuring that there is also enough space for your office chair.

Storage

From built-in drawers and cupboards, through to pull out laptop stands, todays corner desks offer a whole host of different storage solutions that will allow you to keep your working area as tidy as possible.

After all, in any office space, its important to keep your working environment clean, organised and accessible. With this in mind, choosing a corner desk with enough storage should be high on your list of priorities.

A corner desk for a reception area

Choosing the perfect finish

Available in a wide range of finishes and designs, you will be able to choose a corner desk that will complement and enhance the existing dcor of your office.

When it comes to choosing a finish, the right option for you will depend on how often you plan to use your desk and what it will be used for. For example, although MDF desks offer value, longevity and come in a multitude of finishes, a solid wood desk will last you a lot longer than MDF.

Theres also the option to choose a metal corner desk. Metal desks are fireproof and waterproof, although they are also prone to scratching.

Why choose BT Office furniture?

Since our formation in 1994, BT Office has become a leading UK office furniture supplier.

We use our own fleet of vehicles and team of specialist fitters to ensure your modern and executive office furniture arrives undamaged and is installed by people who are familiar with the products. We provide a vast range of desks suitable for a wide range of working environments, including corner desks that are available in a variety of different colours, shapes, sizes and finishes.

Get in touch today to find out how we can enhance the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your office environment.

Kitchen office ideas 101 – Guide to how to manage an office kitchen

Kitchen office ideas 101 – Guide to how to manage an office kitchen

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7 DAYS A WEEK 8.30AM - 7.00PM

Although office kitchens are a highly desirable addition to any workplace, they can also cause a number of issues, especially when it comes to keeping the area clean, tidy and organised.

Allowing employees to make a hot drink in the middle of a hectic morning or tuck into a hearty meal for their lunch, office kitchens are extremely convenient. They can also provide a great place to relax, mingle with colleagues, and escape the hustle and bustle of office life. This type of breakout area can be great for staff morale.

Without the right management approach though, an office kitchen can cause conflict amongst your employees, especially around keeping it clean.

Heres our guide to everything that you need to know about managing your office kitchen.

What does an office kitchen need?

When youre setting up your office kitchen, make sure these everyday essentials are on your check list:

  • Core appliances such as a fridge, kettle, microwave, toaster and cooker
  • Utensils, such as forks, knives and spoons
  • Bowls and plates
  • Suitable seating
  • Tables
  • Charging points
  • Water bottles

How to manage an office kitchen

When it comes to managing your office kitchen, it certainly pays to impose a set of rules for its use. Try these:

Only eat and drink your own food

Taking a fellow colleagues food and drink is not only highly disrespectful, it is also technically stealing. So, no matter how tempting your colleagues meals look, keep your hands off!

Stick to the cleaning rota

Theres nothing worse than a dirty, messy and unhygienic kitchen. One way to keep your office kitchen sparkling clean is to initiate a cleaning rota, from washing down worktops through to taking out the rubbish. If you dont have a cleaner, everyone should play their individual role.

Using the fridge

As many refrigerators have limited space, you should only refrigerate food and drink that actually needs to be in there.

Leave appliances and worktops the way you found them

You wouldnt leave your appliances and worktops in a mess after cooking at home, so you shouldnt be doing it at work either. So, when youve used the cooker or microwave, make sure you clean up any mess before tucking into your meal.

If supplies are low, replace them

Many offices provide basics such as milk, coffee and tea. If you notice that supplies are running low or you happen to use the last tea bag or drop of milk, its office etiquette that you replace it.

How to keep the office kitchen clean

With so many people cooking, drinking and dining in one place, its no surprise that many office kitchens can become messy, very quickly. With this in mind, you should ensure that all your employees understand the rules when it comes to keeping the kitchen clean and make sure they have the tools they need to clean up after themselves.

How to design an office kitchen

Office kitchens come in all different shapes and sizes. But, as a general rule of thumb, there are some basic design elements to adopt, including keeping the space bright and airy, letting in as much natural light as possible and keeping workspaces clear.

Of course, this doesnt mean that you cant inject elements of your brands personality, such as bold colours or exciting features and/or kitchen devices. There are lots of ways to make the space as comfortable and exciting for your staff as possible.

Keep in mind the number of employees you have and how many are likely to use the kitchen. One microwave for 2500 employees isn’t going to be enough!

Your office kitchen layout

There are a few rules that you should follow when it comes to creating an inviting, functional and attractive office kitchen space.

Focus on making your office kitchen as centrally located as possible, and go for an open plan kitchen layout.

If youre planning an office kitchen, we can help ensure its a functional, useful space. Get in touch to find out more.

What is a DSE Assessment?

What is a DSE Assessment?

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7 DAYS A WEEK 8.30AM - 7.00PM

How to make sure your workplace is compliant with the law

Your questions answered DSE assessment 101

The health, safety and wellbeing of employees should be a top priority for every business.

Sitting in front of a computer for an extended period of time can lead to issues such as poor posture, back pain, neck pain and headaches. A DSE assessment can help reduce the risks of these issues, by ensuring that good practice is always followed.

What does DSE stand for?

DSE stands for Display Screen Equipment. It refers to any device or equipment used in the workplace that features a display screen, including desktops, laptops, touch screens, projector screens, CCTV screens and handheld devices.

What is a DSE assessment?

A DSE assessment looks at the way someone uses a device with a screen, in order to identify risks and hazards that may impact their health and/or wellbeing. Measures can then be taken to ensure the level of risk is as low as possible.

Who needs a DSE assessment?

Any workstation used by a business needs to be DSE assessed. This includes co-working space, remote working spaces and temporary workplaces, as well as the companys offices.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations apply to workers who use DSE daily, for an hour or more at a time. Workers who use DSE occasionally, or only for a short amount of time, dont require a DSE assessment.

Are DSE assessments mandatory?

Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, employers are required to perform a suitable and significant analysis of those workstations which a) are used for business purposes by users, or b) have been provided by the business and are used for the purposes of undertaking its operations.

In other words, it is mandatory for all devices used by employees to undergo a DSE assessment.

What happens in a DSE assessment?

A detailed assessment will be carried out of the workstation. If any changes are required, these will usually be made immediately.

Its not just the display screen itself that needs to be assessed. All elements of the equipment will be checked, including the keyboard, mouse, trackballs and furniture. The wider environment will also be considered, including lighting, reflections, glare, temperature and noise.

How long does a DSE assessment take?

The amount of time it takes to complete a DSE assessment will vary depending on the workspace and the users needs. However, a standard DSE assessment usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.

How often should a DSE assessment be carried out?

A DSE assessment should be carried out every time a workstation is set up, when a new employee starts, or if a workstation is significantly changed. If an employee reports pain or discomfort while using their workstation, a DSE assessment should be carried out again.

What are the health risks associated with DSE?

Working with DSE for extended periods can pose a number of health risks, including fatigue, eye strain, upper limb problems, pain and discomfort.

How long should you sit in front of a computer?

Sitting still for too long, especially when looking at a screen, can cause problems. Avoid sitting in front of the computer for too long wherever possible, and take short, frequent breaks. This will give the muscles in your back the chance to relax.

What is the correct way to sit at a computer desk?

To sit correctly at your desk:

  • Sit up straight with your shoulders back
  • Make sure your buttocks are touching the back of the chair
  • Distribute your body weight evenly across both hips
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor

Is it better to look up or down at a monitor?

The computer monitor should be positioned directly in front of the user, and centred so that they dont need to twist their body or neck to look at the screen. Make sure the monitor is at a comfortable height and the user doesnt have to tilt their head up or bend their neck down in order to see it. The eyes should look slightly downward when viewing the middle of the screen.

How far should you sit from a 27-inch monitor?

The user should sit at least 20 inches (51 cm) from the screen, or an arms length. The larger the screen, the more distance is needed.

Should I use a footrest at my desk?

A footrest can help ensure youre sitting in the correct position at your desk. If you cant reach to rest your feet flat on the floor when sitting at your desk, you should use a footrest.

Footrests have been shown to boost circulation, reduce the risk of lower back issues and improve posture and comfort levels.

When sitting should your knees be higher than your hips?

When sitting at your workstation, your knees should be bent at a right angle, with your knees at the same height or slightly higher than your hips.

Should you cross your legs when sitting?

Sitting with your legs crossed can lead to poor posture, so you should always try to sit with your legs uncrossed and both feet flat on the floor.

Our top ergonomic office furniture picks

Here at BT Office, we supply and install office furniture throughout the UK. Our aim is to provide comfortable, reliable and practical office furniture solutions that meet our clients needs.

Explore our collection of office desks and ergonomic chairs that will keep your workforce safe, healthy and productive.

To find out more about DSE assessments or our ergonomic desk products, please get in touch.

Open vs closed plan office

Open vs closed plan office

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7 DAYS A WEEK 8.30AM - 7.00PM

When it comes to office space planning, it isnt a case of one size fits all. Every business is different and has different requirements for its office layout. There are lots of different factors to consider when choosing between an open or closed office plan. If youre struggling with the layout of your office, this guide is for you. Weve outlined everything you need to know about open and closed office plans.

Open office vs closed office which is best?

Open and closed office plans both come with pros and cons. The right option for your companys needs will depend on factors such as your business offering, privacy needs, vision, employee engagement requirements and what works best for your team. Finding the balance between creating an inspiring yet productive office space can be a difficult task for many businesses. Its one of the key considerations to take into account when comparing open and closed office spaces. Here are some of the pros and cons of closed and open offices.

Open office – pros and cons

Promoting transparency, collaboration and engagement, open plan offices dont have enclosed spaces, separate rooms or walled areas. Instead, employees work in a large open space next to their colleagues. Although spaces are open for people to work freely, there are usually still dedicated meeting and social areas. Inspiring greater efficiency and a sense of teamwork, open offices are extremely popular, particularly amongst creative businesses.

What are the advantages of open plan offices?

Open plan offices offer a number of advantages, including:

Collaboration

One of the main advantages of open plan offices is that they create an inspiring and energetic working environment where employees can work together, side by side. Favoured by companies that encourage employee engagement and teamwork, such as marketing agencies, sales companies, newsrooms and graphic design agencies, open office layouts have been proven to optimise employee satisfaction levels.

Cost

An open plan office is far more cost effective than a closed office space, as you are able to accommodate more heads per square foot. You also wont typically need to invest in as much furniture.

Accessibility

Open plan offices are extremely accessible and, even if there are dedicated areas for certain job roles, all departments can be accessed easily. Encouraging open conversations and optimum flexibility, open plan working environments also facilitate inspiration and innovation.

Open office desk and chair layout

What are the disadvantages of open plan offices?

Noise

Noise can often be a major issue in open plan offices. This, in turn, can have a huge impact on some employees productivity, especially if they need a quite space to work.

Spreading illness

Another disadvantage of open plan offices is that, if a member of your workforce becomes ill, theres a high risk that the rest of your workforce will too, especially those working in close proximity to each other.

Disagreements

With so many people working within an open space, its easy for employees to clash, especially if there are lots of big personalities working together. This can create unnecessary stress in the workplace.

Closed offices spaces

A closed office is significantly different to an open plan office, featuring lots of enclosed working areas, where employees have their own space to work independently and in private. Featuring office cubicles, walls to divide spaces and panels to control noise levels, closed offices are used across a wide range of different professional service businesses including law firms, the banking industry and accounting agencies. Closed office spaces are particularly popular at the moment as many companies have had to implement strict social distancing rules in response to COVID-19.

What are the advantages of closed office spaces?

Improved productivity

With minimum distractions, closed offices spaces often allow employees to get more done.

Optimum privacy

Of course, it goes without saying that closed office spaces offer far more privacy than open office spaces. Privacy can be a major concern in some sectors, so its important that office environments are set up to offer private working and meetings if needed.

A defined hierarchy

Finally, one of the main advantages of closed office spaces is that they highlight the office hierarchy, based on where employees are working from. For example, managers are likely to have their own office booth away from the rest of the workforce.

Closed office with separate meeting rooms

How to get the best of both types of office

If you have an open office, what can you do to reduce noise, distractions and stress? When it comes to planning an open office, theres lots of different types of furniture you can add in order to reduce noise, distractions and stress levels, including Buzzi Bracks pods, office pods, floor standing partitions and screens. If you have a closed office, what can you do to promote collaboration and discussion? If you opt for a closed office, there are still plenty of ways to encourage collaboration, including adding breakout sofas and stools, meeting pods, reception seating and high back sofas.

Hush hubs office pod for meetings dams

Why choose BT Office Furniture and Interiors?

Here at BT Office Furniture and Interiors, we supply and install a whole host of flexible office furniture throughout most of the UK. Weve got everything you need to create both closed and open office spaces. With almost 50 years experience, our team of professionally trained installers have extensive product knowledge when it comes to finding the best furniture for your needs. If you require further information about any of our products, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team. Our friendly, helpful and professional office planning team is always on hand to answer any of your questions.