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Inspiration | Jan 2022

Hybrid collaboration spaces

How to design hybrid spaces for new ways of working and contemporary workplace considerations

Returning to the office is a priority for employees and employers alike. Working from home, or in any sort of isolation, is fine for the short term, but ultimately, our need for human connection pulls us back together. It is the relationships and collaboration with colleagues that drive creativity and design-thinking. There is a reason that brainstorming and whiteboard sessions were the ‘thing’ in the ’90s. Conversations, where ideas are thrown around, are often where the solutions are found.

As offices welcome employees back, businesses are reimagining their spaces to embrace communication, collaboration, connection, and creation. Optimizing the contact time with colleagues when co-located is equally as important as embracing the new ways of working that have emerged during the pandemic. Workspace considerations have changed, with an increased focus on sensory environment design, employee wellbeing, and fluid spaces. We know that collaboration areas and flexible working considerations are key, but it’s also vital for businesses to remain agile and mitigate risk.

For those businesses who have survived and are looking towards a post-pandemic era with the workforce, workspace usage has become a priority. Costs associated with large lease holdings and rental spaces have not disappeared – even if the work has. In the blink of an eye, an office space with fifty cubicles was an empty shell. So how can we re-imagine these spaces? How can we take the footprints of these offices and make them work efficiently? And how can we do it with minimal cost and disruption?

Undoubtedly, the greatest shift in working habits has been towards online meeting spaces. While the pandemic saw these initially beaming from people’s home offices, more and more work meetings continue to occur online, replacing what would have been face-to-face two years ago. The requirement for quiet, technology-capable, appropriate spaces for these meetings to occur has escalated. While many small offices may have operated with one or two conference/meeting rooms, this demand has now increased.

Acoustics have an enormous role to play in the development of these spaces to make them fit for purpose. Ideally, the greatest opportunity to address acoustics is in the initial design stages. Even if not done with a technical focus through acoustic engineers, many designers will focus on typical sound dampening options in spaces such as carpets, ceiling panels, and baffles. But, when it comes to a retrofit where cost is an issue, acoustic lighting has developed as a leading economical tool for enhancing sound absorption in a space. For meeting and conference rooms or collaborative spaces, being able to converse with limited sound reverberation is paramount.

Case studies show that it can take as few as two key acoustic pendant lights to achieve up to 95% sound reduction. Remembering….the cost of fitting lights in the space was a given anyhow, so the noise absorption benefits are an economically positive gain. And add this to the current climate where many clients are reluctant to bolt down permanently any fixtures or fittings, acoustic lighting can be a logical sound solution.

Likewise, in open spaces, the need to limit ambient noise has a direct impact on the productivity and wellbeing of employees. Where the focus should be in establishing environments that encourage employees to return safely to their workspaces, the sound should be as much a consideration as light, air, and personal space in regards to retrofitting a space.

Importantly, a product does not have to be unattractive to work well. Modern acoustic lighting fixtures can be styled to fit within a variety of color schemes and design trends, or artfully incorporated as a decorative element in their own right. So while Luxxbox’s acoustic lights offer a beautiful aesthetic solution for well-designed interiors, they are backed by extensive research and purposeful design to maximize their sound benefits.

Versatile, environmentally friendly, more efficient, and less expensive than single-purpose solutions, acoustic lighting is a streamlined approach to mitigating unwanted environmental noise. Acoustic lighting can merge seamlessly with current office designs while remaining adaptable for use in hybrid workspaces. These powerful benefits make acoustic lighting a wise investment for designers, architects, and all workspace planners—indeed for anyone who seeks to improve employee well-being, boost productivity, and optimize workplace design.

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