How Improved Acoustics and Well-being Led Design Can Provide a Solution for Employers During The Great Resignation - Part 1

August 17, 2022

In April 2021 more than four million US people quit their jobs, according to a summary from the Department of Labor – the biggest spike on record. Employees, who’ve had time to reevaluate their lives during lockdowns, will vote with their feet and leave if they don’t feel listened to.

In November 2021, The Predictive Index surveyed 326 executives about The Great Resignation. The survey attempted to put a dollar amount on this mass work reshuffling. It found that the average cost of a single resignation is $11,372 per employee.

Though this may not seem like a lot, consider that the survey also found that 20% of employees have quit in the past six months. At a 500-person organization, if 100 people leave, this could cost a company nearly $1 million. Wouldn’t a portion of that money be better invested in well being focused workspace design; creating a space and culture in which staff can enjoy working productively, grow together and thrive?

Poppy Szkiler is CEO Founder of Quiet Mark, a global certification program providing consumers and specifiers around the world with a short-cut to find lowest-noise high-performance products and acoustic building materials to reduce unwanted noise. She was named “the Queen of Quiet” by The Sunday Times newspaper in 2021. She is a passionate campaigner about the impact of sound on well-being. The company is on a mission to help create peaceful living.

AEC Daily spoke with Poppy to learn more about the work that Quiet Mark does and explore the ways in which reduced noise and improved acoustics can benefit our health and wellbeing.

Has acoustic design become more of a focus since the pandemic and what advice would you offer to employers who want to future-proof their organizations?
According to the Leesman Index, which has measured the employee experience of almost 1M employees, at 6.2K companies, in 107 countries at the office and at home to build global benchmarks of the best work environments in the world, the biggest difference between new workplaces that succeed in providing the users an outstanding experience, and those that fail, is in support for activities that we know are generally well supported at home, e.g. thinking, having private or business confidential conversations. In other words, activities that rely on good acoustic privacy.

Leesman found that noise levels are important to 71% of the employees, yet only 33% find them satisfactory in their workplace. In Quiet Mark’s own January 2022, Employment & Work Acoustics US poll of 1,000 American adults, 22%, nearly a quarter, report they would seek a total career or work environment change to limit noise, even considering a complete change in industry to do so.

Before the pandemic, in 2018, roughly 70% of U.S. companies had some type of open office plan with 15-20% adopting a totally open plan. However, today, the wide-open office, popularized by tech industry titans like Google and Facebook, is fast becoming a thing of the past. The fad has become almost dangerous in the face of the virus — employees often sit packed in large, open rooms, with desks placed close enough to reach out and touch your coworker.

Our guest on Episode 30 of The Quiet Mark Podcast, was Adam Cossey, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, the UK’s 7th largest architectural practice, with offices globally, including Los Angeles, US. He spoke of tests that his company had carried out internally, which found that pre-pandemic, the average office needed to allocate 6 desks per 10 staff, whereas now, with hybrid models in effect, that ratio can be reduced to as low as 3 desks per 10.

This saved space has given rise to agile workplaces that incorporate activity-based working, which allows workers to pick and choose settings throughout the office that fit their needs at a given time. This means there may be some open areas within an office that are available to use when a worker feels that is the best fit, but there may also be more private spaces where someone can close a door to really sit and concentrate in silence, such as a Quiet Mark Certified Vetrospace Acoustic Office Pod, pictured above.

This has given rise to new types of acoustic office furniture that have recently achieved Quiet Mark certification and inclusion in our Acoustics Academy platform of verified acoustic solutions for every building type. Products such as Vetrospace’s modular meeting rooms, pods and phone booths, BlockO’s acoustic meeting pods and BuzziSpace’s range of acoustic lighting, and office furniture, pictured below.

Continue reading to Part 2.