With many workers now returning to the office following nearly two years of working from home, many are now facing a new challenge; taking video calls in the middle of a busy, noisy office. It’s a challenge which many companies are solving by investing in ‘acoustic booths’. But some acoustic booths are far better than others. If you want to buy the best acoustic booth for your office, read our complete guide now…
The rise and rise of acoustic booths
For many office managers and company owners, the concept of an acoustic booth is an entirely new thing.
After all, pre-March 2020 most workers were accustomed to face-to-face meetings, phone calls and emails.
But with the advent of lockdowns and stay at home orders throughout much of 2020 and 2021, video calls very quickly became the dominant way of staying in contact with colleagues, customers and suppliers.
Now, with some workers returning to the office, and the rise of hybrid working, video calls are very much here to stay.
However, as you’ve probably quickly realised yourself, it can be difficult joining a video call in the middle of a noisy office.
Enter acoustic booths.
What is an acoustic booth?
Acoustic booths are, as their name suggests, booths which provide a quiet place to conduct a video call, phone call or meeting.
They help to create an area in an office which is noticeably quieter, and they do so by incorporating design features and materials which ‘dampen’ sound.
In addition to dampening sound, acoustic booths will typically incorporate other features such as a desk/table, seating, and sometimes even LED lighting, whiteboards and ventilation fans.
What are the benefits of an acoustic booth?
Aside from the obvious, that they provide a quiet place to conduct calls and meetings, acoustic booths have a number of other benefits:
- They provide more meeting space. If you work in a building with a limited number of dedicated meeting rooms, then acoustic booths make it easy to add more without having to go down the route of building work or moving offices.
- They reduce visual distractions. If you work in an open-plan office then an acoustic booth will provide somewhere for employees to engage in ‘deep work’ without being distracted by people walking around and talking etc.
- They offer privacy. If you have to work on a commercially sensitive document, or need to take a personal call, then an acoustic booth will help you do these things with a greater degree of privacy.
- They can cut down on staff sick days. Good quality acoustic booths not only physically separate staff from each other, reducing the transmission of viruses and illnesses, but they are well ventilated too, making them a healthy place in which to work.
- They emulate part of the working from home experience. For many workers, one of the many benefits of working from home was the peace and quiet. In many instances, they were able to increase their productivity. An acoustic booth will allow your workers to recapture the peace and quiet of a home study, in the middle of your office.
- They’re cool! We know this is a somewhat superficial point, but as companies struggle to encourage employees to return to the office, having features such as acoustic booths can add a touch of novelty and fun to the workspace.
What to look for in an acoustic booth for your office
Do you like the sound of adding an acoustic booth to your office? Then there are a number of things you need to know about in order to get the very best acoustic booth.
Below, we’ve set out the key things to look for when selecting an acoustic booth for your workplace.
Sizing and uses
Before you do anything else, you’ll want to decide what size acoustic booth you want, and what purposes you’ll be using it for.
There are a wide range of acoustic booths available, ranging from phone box style booths that are designed for one person to make calls in private, through to large multi-person booths that incorporate benches and a table.
Which booth is right for you, will all stem from this initial decision. So, think very carefully about what type of booth is right for you and your team. If necessary, run a consultation or survey with your staff and find out a) if they’d use an acoustic booth, and b) what they would use it for.
From there you can make an informed decision that will benefit your employees.
As you would expect, this should be at the top of the list when selecting an acoustic booth.
After all, if you’re buying a booth in order to create a quiet space in your office, you actually want it to dampen sound effectively.
The best acoustic booths are designed and manufactured with features such as:
- Acoustic lined panels. Integrated into the construction of the booth, these acoustic lined panels absorb high-frequency sounds and reduce reverberation, significantly reducing the transmitted sound that penetrates into the booth.
- Blocking panels and glass door. The exterior panels of the acoustic booth should be manufactured from top of the range materials that are designed to interrupt the passage of sound, as well as actively deflecting sound waves.
- Cover. Top quality acoustic booths will also feature an enclosed roof with a fan. This fan will not only keep air circulating and fresh within the booth, but can be set to create ambient noise that will mask conversations taking place within the booth.
In addition to checking that your desired acoustic booth incorporates the above design features, you should also check its ‘dB rating’.
The dB rating refers to the acoustic performance of an acoustic booth. The lower the dB rating, the better the acoustic booth is at dampening noise.
To give you an idea of what sort of dB rating you should look for in an acoustic booth, consider this; the ambient noise levels in an average open plan office tend to range between 45dB and 55dB.
In order to counteract this level of noise, you will want your acoustic booth to have a dB rating of around 31dB to 34dB.
If you’re going to be spending any amount of time in an acoustic booth working, you’re going to want to make sure it’s properly lit.
It’s best to go for an acoustic booth that features LED lighting. This is because LED lights not only offer exceptionally clear and bright lighting, but they’re also highly efficient, long lasting, do not produce heat, and are environmentally friendly.
Another lighting-related feature you may want to look for in an acoustic booth is a dimmer switch, so that you can adjust the lighting within the booth to your preferred setting.
You’ll also want to make sure that the acoustic booth you select has sufficient ventilation.
As it’s a small, compact space, you don’t want the inside of your acoustic booth to become hot and stuffy after only a few minutes of working in it.
So, look for acoustic booths that feature integrated air circulation fans. The best setup consists of an acoustic fan in the ceiling of the booth, as this is the best position to create optimal ventilation.
The very best acoustic booths will use their air circulation fans to actively support the suppression of noise as well. For example, it’s possible to buy acoustic booths that feature air circulation fans with ‘enhanced acoustic labyrinth air flow systems’.
Another ventilation-related feature you may want to look for, is a fan control regulator, which will allow you to easily control how fast or slow the ventilation fan is operating.
Your staff aren’t necessarily going to want to work in an acoustic booth if it doesn’t have a power supply.
Whether they are using a laptop, or want to share documents on a screen, they’re going to want to be able to plug in their electronic devices whilst they are using the booth.
In other words, make sure you buy an acoustic booth which can connect to your office’s electrics.
The best acoustic booths will come with ‘power modules’, which are effectively small panels which feature a plug socket and USB charging points. Many models of acoustic booth will give you the option of adding multiple plug sockets and charging points to the power module.
Be sure to also check that if your chosen acoustic booth does have a power module, that the module is CE approved.
Mountings and fixtures
For added utility and functionality, it can be worth making sure that your chosen acoustic booth includes mountings and fixtures.
For example, you can specify many acoustic booths to include mountings and cable guides for display screens. This’ll make it super easy to turn your booth into a properly collaborative space, where employees can work from a single screen.
On a more mundane level, it can also be handy to select an acoustic booth that has other fixtures such as coat hooks. These sorts of features may seem boring, but they help to create a comfortable, practical working environment. They’re also handy for when you have clients or suppliers visiting your office.
It’s not just the interior of your acoustic booth that you should pay attention to. You’ll want to make sure that the exterior of your booth matches the rest of your office’s decor and aesthetic.
The very best acoustic booths are available in a range of different exterior finishes including veneers such as oak, walnut and maple, laminate exteriors in colours such as white, platinum grey, jet black and even fabric exteriors.
With many of the above features incorporated into an acoustic booth, it can be handy to have a single central control to operate them.
The very best acoustic booths will feature a touch screen interface that will give you full control of the lighting and air circulation. Very often, these touch screen interfaces will include other handy features such as meeting timers and even integration with booking apps.
If you’re a company that has sustainability targets, then you’ll want to make sure that the acoustic booth you’ve chosen is designed and manufactured using sustainable materials, in a sustainable way.
One way to tell if an acoustic booth is sustainably manufactured, is to look for an FSC accreditation mark.
The FSC mark is a certification scheme from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that shows that an item has been manufactured using wood, paper and other forest products from sustainable, responsibly managed sources.
The best acoustic booths for UK offices
Having read this far, we’re going to assume that you’re pretty interested in buying an acoustic booth for your office.
If that’s the case, then check out the acoustic booths below. These booths tick all of the boxes that we’ve detailed above, and also offer exceptional value for money.
Oasis Linear Collection
If you’d like an acoustic booth that really is the gold standard of acoustic booths and that can accommodate multiple employees then check out the Oasis Linear Collection.
The Linear is an incredibly versatile acoustic booth and can be used for everything from small group work to presentations, video conferencing or even for activities like yoga, praying or meditation.
Featuring an open front, a fully-enclosed ceiling and the option to include glazed panels, back-lit fabric panels, high-back sofas and coat hooks, the Oasis Linear really is an acoustic booth that can do it all.
You’ll also find that the Oasis Linear includes the ‘essential’ acoustic booth features that we talked about above, such as an LED light panel, acoustic lined panels and more.
What’s more, the Oasis Linear can be used in multiples, nested together to create a series of quiet, collaborative working spaces.
Chatbox Single Person Acoustic Hub (1m x 1m) with Shelf – Black
For those of you seeking a more budget conscious option, then consider the Chatbox.
Designed and developed by the very best acoustic booth experts, the Chatbox telephone booth is perfect for creating a serene, peaceful environment for phone and video calls away from the hustle and bustle of the office.
It’s packed with the kind of features you should expect from a quality acoustic booth, such as LED lighting, a silent ventilation system, superior soundproofing with a 34dB rating, a power outlet, as well as an optional whiteboard and TV bracket.
Plus, it has a sleek modern design with an exterior in sheet metal which is available in either black or white.
So, if you’re looking for the perfect acoustic booth for your office, you can’t go wrong with the Chatbox!
Shop acoustic booths for offices now
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