We have music and noise machines and have used acoustic panels and other means to try to help manage sound. Our current break room is small (a galley kitchen) , so it doesn’t serve as a gathering place very well. Members have asked for a place to sit and have a meal and a conversation, but weren’t willing to give up some of the flex coworking space to get it. IF we move, we’ll definitely take our lessons learned into that new space. Those lessons include:
Don’t try to make the space quiet; aim for a balanced “white noise” of lots of sounds that can fall in the background and make it harder to discern any one conversation
This is easier to do in larger spaces
You can use music to define spaces and help manage sound transfer
Plaster walls are amazingly effective at bouncing sound around
Make your own cloth-covered acoustic panels; they can be stupid-expensive to buy
Don’t underestimate the importance of a social / gathering / eating space. We minimized it to maximize seats where people could work and, as you can see, that has backfired on us
Leave the drywall off the ceilings if you can. Fewer flat surfaces help with sound management
If you have wood, tile, or cement floors consider area rugs
I acknowledge we could use improvements in work space, but I perceive this as more of a behavior issue - or perhaps a culture issue. People shouldn’t yell across a room to say hello to someone.
That said, I have an update. I put together a survey that included things like, "The dynamics of our Community Room change throughout the day. From your perspective, the Community Room is … with the ability to say if the room was quiet, loud, empty, and full not enough, about the right amount, or too much. I also asked respondents to rate how much they feel comfortable, productive, focused, connected, happy, etc. when they work in the Community Room. We then used the results of the survey to have a group discussion. We learned a little from the process, which was good, but mostly the survey gave us an easy way into having a discussion in a recent member meeting about our Playground Rules and how people’s behaviors effect others. Without having to be heavy handed with anyone, we noticed an immediate change after our member meeting. So, fingers crossed. Hopefully it sticks because my threatening to put tape on one member’s mouth (we’re friends) wasn’t working. Hahaha.
On Monday, March 12, 2018 at 11:47:08 AM UTC-4, Barbara Sprenger wrote:
I think this may answer one of my questions to your other post!
We always put in a noise cancellation system, which really helps with sound privacy.
Also, when you look at space, think about high ceilings, which also help with both sound and a feeling of spaciousness and privacy.
Lastly, we try to always have two somewhat separated cafe spaces (our term for open coworking areas), so we can have one with “library rules”.
Oops. And other lastly, it’s important to have “the watercooler”, the breakroom area where people are comfortable socializing more.
In a small space, it’s so difficult to manage sound, which (to me) is always the biggest headache in coworking. We just try to duplicate space into quiet and free speech zones!
On Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 7:06:40 AM UTC-8, Julia Ferguson wrote:
On Saturday, March 10, 2018 at 10:04:55 AM UTC-5, Julia Ferguson wrote:
We have members who are quite loud in our main flexible seating coworking room (roughly 13 x 35 feet with seating for 16). One member laughs so loudly it can be heard from other rooms and greets people with a loud “Hey!”. Another with a loud voice strikes up a conversation with almost everyone he comes into contact with. We have tried without success to get these noisy members to quiet down, but have stopped short of asking them to leave because many members like them and engage with them on a regular basis. And they are not the only ones - just the most frequent offenders. Members have extended conversations in close proximity to others and sometimes nearly the whole room erupts in lively conversation. In so many ways, this is a good thing. But it’s also not so good. The loud people are being really inconsiderate to those who are trying to work (and they are violating our “playground rules”, rules everyone agreed to). Yes … there are headphones and people use them, but some leave the room or even go home because they can’t stay focused. I’m certain we’ve lost existing or potential members because of this. We’ve brought the matter up to our members and most don’t want anything to change, but some really do. We think one of the problems is that we don’t have a separate space where people can freely talk. They’ve become friends and they want to talk to each other, so they’ve turned our main coworking space into also their social space. We’re looking for a larger space and will use these observations in choosing a new space, but a larger space isn’t guaranteed. We may have to stay where we are.
Has anyone else had this situation and, if so, what did you do?
Cowork Frederick (a small 46-person coworking community)