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Let’s hear it for acoustics

Plantronics is using acoustics technology to enhance collaboration in its new offices

Changing working practices underpin the design and fittings at headset manufacturer Plantronics’ new offices in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, including the use of biophilic design and acoustics technology to enhance employee collaboration, concentration and productivity.

Hoofddorp, 21th of March 2017 – Plantronics office.
Hoofddorp, 21th of March 2017 – Plantronics office. Photo: Mats van Soolingen

Plantronics worked closely with architecture firms William McDonough + Partners, N30 and Gensler to design the office space to foster greater productivity and inspire and engage employees, partners and customers.

The layout contains both private and collaborative workspaces to support different styles of work, including impromptu hallway meetings, pop-up brainstorms, video conferences and quiet concentration.

To enable such a flexible use of office space, Plantronics has implemented a variety of technologies designed to minimise the distractions typically experienced in open plan offices and to protect the privacy of employees’ discussions.

These range from the use of materials chosen for their ability to absorb and deflect sound to active acoustic management features that use the ‘sights and sounds’ of nature to manage noise levels.

Highlights include three indoor waterfalls and the sound of a babbling brook played through speakers, which Plantronics says significantly reduces the intelligibility of background noise and therefore its ability to distract.

The building on the Park 20|20 site has been constructed utilising a ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’ approach and is designed to be dissembled at end of life, with many of the materials used being 100% recyclable.

Resource efficiency extends to the use of solar cells to harvest at least a quarter of the building’s required energy; a water system that harvests, cleans and reuses greywater; and carpets made from recycled fishing nets.

Plantronics says the building is on track to receive a BREEAM Excellent rating.