Some “Sound” Advice for Facility Managers

    Those responsible for managing facilities have a lot to keep track of, from routine maintenance and energy usage to remodeling and long-term planning. And every facility has its unique challenges, whether it’s an office, a hospital, a school, a restaurant or some other environment. However, one concern that is common to all of these settings is noise.

    Research has shown that excessive noise can negatively impact productivity and increase stress in the workplace. In fact, research firm Global Workplace Analytics estimates that businesses lose $600 billion a year due to workplace distractions. Additionally, in settings where exceptional acoustic quality is essential, such as a school auditorium, peripheral or background noise has the potential to significantly erode the activities taking place and the audience experience.

    There are several techniques that facility managers (and others responsible for public environments such as human resources departments, restaurant owners and school and hospital administrators) can use to mitigate noise. Here are a few considerations:


    The best option is to plan a facility with noise remediation in mind from the start. For example, in an office environment, the location of HVAC systems and break rooms as well as the materials used for floors, walls and ceilings can all contribute to overall noise levels. Careful planning to avoid placing a noisy work area, such as a copy room, near a space requiring less noise, such as a training or conference room, can go a long way toward avoiding problems when those spaces are used. Similarly, incorporating acoustic ceiling tiles, wall panels and sound deadening floor materials, such as carpets, in the facility design will help reduce unwanted noise.

    Addressing specific problems as they happen

    Not every facility manager has the good fortune to participate in the planning of the space that they must manage. However, even in existing facilities, there are ways to mitigate specific noise issues that arise without requiring a complete remodel of the facility. Furniture placement and adding plants to absorb sound are two inexpensive but often effective solutions. Additionally, particularly in open office layouts where conversations both contribute to distracting noise and raise speech privacy issues for workers, incorporating white noise machines or similar noise masking technologies can reduce problems. Another possibility is to designate “quiet areas” where workers can go to do work activities that require high concentration or privacy.

    For isolated issues, such as a noisy printer or copy machine, regular maintenance and noise absorbing screens are two strategies that can help minimize disturbances.

    Don’t forget the restroom

    Restrooms are another area where the choice of ceiling, wall and floor finishes and the overall design can have a big impact on the amount of noise experienced within the restroom and in adjacent spaces. In environments that need to minimize sound from hand dryers, look for dryers like our VERDIdri which incorporate speed control features to adjust the sound level. By setting the dryer to a lower motor speed and air velocity, the hand dryer’s sound level can be reduced to keep sound to a minimum when that is an important goal.

    At World Dryer, we know that being a facility manager is not an easy job! That’s why we strive to give you all the high-speed hand drying options you need to ensure that your facility is not only as cost and energy efficient as it can be, but also delivers the best experience for every one of your facility’s occupants and visitors.