A Guide to Call Center Soundproofing
When it comes to background noise, call centers experience their fair share. You’ve got a sea of people in conversation with their respective customers all at once. All that movement and chatter leads to problem sound waves that can impact our businesses. If you want to avoid the negative effects, call center soundproofing and acoustical treatments are essential. So what’s the difference?
When treating rooms for sound, we are primarily concerned with soundproofing and acoustical treatment. Whether we’re talking about noise control in call centers or orchestra halls, it all comes down to these two concepts. Many people are unaware of the difference between them. If you’re going to effectively treat your room, you’ve got to understand what they are and how they differ.
Most people automatically associate any sound treatment in a room with soundproofing. That’s not always the case. Specifically, soundproofing refers to treating the exteriors of a space to prevent sound passage. It stops interior sounds from making it outside, and it stops exterior sounds from passing into interior spaces.
Soundproofing is usually accomplished by adding mass and volume to the walls, floors, and ceilings and by creating gaps. Adding mass and volume creates a denser surface, which reflects airborne sound waves, preventing them from passing to the other side. Separating surfaces, or adding gaps between them, prevents sound passage by eliminating vibrational pathways. When vibrations run out of connected surfaces, they can effectively be stopped.
The other main method of sound control is acoustical treatment. It’s an important part of soundproofing, but also plays a role in keeping noise in check. That’s because acoustical treatments target the ways sound waves reflect in the room.
When sound waves travel across space and encounter a hard, flat surface, they reflect back into the room. An abundance of reflections leads to problems with echo and reverberation. Echo and reverb are fun concepts, but they negatively impact the way we communicate with one another.
Rooms full of echo and reverb tend to get loud quickly. That’s because, as the sound waves build up in the room, we talk more loudly to compensate for the added noise. Acoustical treatments solve the problem by either diffusing sound or absorbing some sound waves and reflecting others. This mix makes much more pleasant ambient atmospheres indoors and delivers positive health impacts.
Noise and Your Health
Overexposure to noise can have a host of negative impacts on our health. You may know that loud noises can damage your hearing, but did you know they can harm your mental health too?
Even if your call center noise isn’t loud enough to damage your hearing, it can cause emotional distress. That’s because being regularly exposed to unwanted noise makes it hard to focus, concentrate, and even get a good night’s sleep.
When our homes or workplaces are too loud, our productivity can suffer. We have a hard time focusing, and that also raises stress levels. Since stress is directly linked to a wide range of health problems, from heart disease to obesity, it’s worth tackling. Reducing the amount of noise we are exposed to regularly has a very positive impact. Do something for your work family and their families with call center soundproofing.
Call Center Soundproofing Basics
An idea can be amazing, but putting it into practice is even better. To get the results you’re after, you’ll need a plan to get you there. When it comes to noise reduction, call centers are an important place to focus our efforts. Now that we know a little bit about sound control and its benefits, let’s learn some call center soundproofing basics.
Seal Doors and Windows
The first step in soundproofing a call center and achieving noticeable results is to seal any gaps in your facade. Whether you’ve got gaps around your door or window frames or cracks in the walls, you must seal them. If air can get through, so can sound.
Get yourself some acoustical caulk and fill any gaps or cracks you can find. It’s incredibly flexible, even when dry, so this simple fix will last a long time. It will produce noticeable results, too. This is one of the simplest and cheapest steps you can take toward proper call center soundproofing.
Add Mass to Walls
Unless you’ve got concrete walls with thick drywall already, you’ll likely need to add some mass. Adding mass to your walls makes it much harder for sound waves to penetrate and reach the other side. There are some simple ways to add some serious mass without getting into a large construction project.
First, you can roll out some MLV, or mass loaded vinyl, covered with a second drywall layer onto your existing walls. Mass loaded vinyl is an incredibly dense material that can be applied to most flat surfaces. It’s easy to install, and once you’ve covered it with drywall or other wall material, you’ll have considerably more mass. It’s a simple solution with big benefits.
Another option is to use green glue between sheets of drywall. Green glue dampens sound, which means it transforms vibrational energy into heat energy. This traps vibrations between the layers and prevents it from passing through. It’s a great way to add mass, but gets heavy. Make sure your studs are strong enough to handle the added weight.
Tackling Shared Walls
Quite often, retail spaces share walls with other businesses. It’s a great way to reduce rent costs, but can cause more noise than an individual unit. That’s because many contractors don’t build shared walls all the way up to the true ceiling. Instead, they push them up past the drop ceiling and leave the entire overhead area open. This can be good for air circulation, but doesn’t do any favors as far as noise is concerned.
If you’ve got noise coming in through the area above shared walls, acoustical panels in a T-grid can work wonders. Stopping that sound before it reaches your space creates a quieter working atmosphere for your employees. It not only helps us concentrate but it helps protect privacy. That extra measure will pay off big when it comes to client and staff satisfaction.
Add Mass to Doors
Even with properly soundproofed walls, a thin door can present a weak link in the armor. Interior doors are often hung for visual privacy and do next to nothing in the way of audible privacy. Even with the door closed, you’ll hear everything that’s happening on the other side. To tackle this, you can add mass in a few ways.
Your first and easiest option is to replace the door. Pop your current door off, install a solid core door with some weight behind it, and you’re all set. That added mass will go a long way toward keeping sound from passing through. A new door can be expensive, though. If you want to improve your door’s performance on budget, you’ve got options.
A good deal of the sound passage moves through the gaps around the door, so that’s a good starting point. Installing a door seal kit with an automatic door sweep will completely seal the door. Once installed, the only passage is straight through the door. Seal your door well and you may not need to add much mass at all. If you need a more robust solution you may be able to improve the performance of the door you already have.
First, you can add some wood wool or sound silencer panels to beef it up. Do it on both sides, and you’ll actually get a pretty decent reduction in sound passage. Another option is to add Wood Wool or Sound Silencer Panels on the full face of the door. This will decrease sound transmission somewhat, and will add an interesting finish to the facade. It may not completely block sounds, however.
The best solution is going to be the addition of studio doors. They are built to reduce noise transmission and provide the best protection against loud noise sources and add considerable privacy. If you’re able to go this route, upgrading wall performance at the same time will deliver top of the line results.
Install Proper Windows
Windows are an important part of maintaining employee morale with sunshine, but they’ve got to be effective against sound too. If you’ve got aging windows that are looking a little rough around the edges, it may be time to upgrade.
New windows are going to be well sealed and will generally have two or three panes separated by a gap. New windows perform wonderfully, but they are another solution that can add up quickly. Your best bet is to install window inserts to give your old windows new life.
When we want to preserve our vintage windows, window inserts are the solution of choice. They sit into your window frame and seal another pane of glass behind your existing window. Not only does this give you a solid seal; it also gives you that extra pane and air-filled gap. They accomplish all this at a fraction of the costs associated with new window replacement.
Window inserts are also available in both custom and standard sizes, meaning you’ll find something that fits your windows perfectly. They’re an effective method of sound insulation for call centers, and they’ll let you hang on to your historic windows.
Call Center Cubicle Soundproofing
In addition to treating the room itself, it may be helpful to add some sound control to the cubicles. That will create serene spaces for each employee. A great way to do that is to add partitions that rise above the tops of the cubicle walls. This will prevent most mouth-level noise from heading directly across the room. Another great option is to acoustically treat the cubicles.
As we touched on earlier, acoustical treatments greatly improve the performance of your soundproofing measures. Acoustic panels are a fantastic way to reduce call center background noise. Absorbing many of those sound waves before they begin bouncing around the room keeps the noise down. It also means your call center soundproofing measures don’t have as much sound to block. It’s a win-win.
Placing acoustical panels into your cubicle walls as well as the room walls will make a huge difference. They are lightweight and easy enough to hang yourself, so you won’t even have to hire help. If you want to truly soundproof a call center, acoustical treatments are a must.
Diffusion is another important concept in acoustically treating rooms. Diffusers kick off reflections in multiple directions. This prevents direct reflections that would otherwise contribute to problem noise. Add some diffusion to your plan for the best results.
Mask Noise with a White Noise Machine
When you think of white noise, call centers are probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe they should be. Call centers are the perfect type of environment for white noise machines to work their magic. Since white noise masks many of the frequencies associated with speech, it provides the perfect cover for concealing personal info.
An office-wide system will help provide sound masking in all corners of the call center. The volume should be dialed in to right around the volume of normal conversation. Too quiet, and it will not be as effective as you’d like. Too loud, and you’re back to square one with your noise issues. Reputable dealers can help you get the most out of your system.
Ask for Help
When you’re soundproofing a call center, best results are gained through a solid plan. That means you need to know what you’re doing. If you aren’t super experienced with soundproofing or acoustically treating rooms, asking for help will go a long way.
Consulting with a qualified firm on your call center soundproofing project will ensure you get the right products and plan. We’ve worked on all kinds of spaces and know what works and what doesn’t. We also carry the professional products that will deliver the results you’re after.
A few well-placed products go much farther than an overblown and underperforming soundproofing plan. Don’t waste your time and money on inferior call center soundproofing. Reach out to see how we can help.