Accoustics and Workstation Panel Heights

Posted by Expert Gadget Reviewer on Wednesday, 5 August 2009

The recent trend in "sustainable" office design has brought workstation panel heights lower. Over the past two years we have seen panel heights reduce from a past standard of 69" tall to the current standard of 56" tall (or lower). The reason for the lowering of panel heights is two fold: 1) a move toward more "teaming" in the workplace versus "solo" working, 2) a drive towards utilizing more "natural light" throughout the office space.

One concern with lowered panel heights is increased noise and the potential for employee distractability. While panel height and panel material is a definite aid towards sound absorption, we have anecdotally found that a lowered panel height may contribute to a quieter office environment. Although counter intuitive, we have seen that because employees are much more aware that their conversations can be easily overheard, they tend to speak more quietly. Contrast this with a high panel office environment, where the "perceived" privacy is greater, and the volume of conversation is louder (this is non-scientific based on our experience).

A quick and easy "layman's" tool for measuring the difference that panel height makes in overall sound absorption can be found (HERE) - Note it may ask for an email address, but it is a simple tool to operate.