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Plantronics is a global leader in audio communications.

Their new office in Hoofddorp, Netherlands is designed to show how acoustic expertise, technology and biophilic design (design influenced by the natural world) can result in better employee collaboration, concentration and productivity.

Project: Plantronics HQ Office

Country/city: Netherlands / Hoofddorp

Architect: William McDonough + Partners / N3O architecten

Ceiling installer: Verwol Projectafbouw

Photographer: Michael van Oosten

Project size: 3500 m2

Employees feeling zen in acoustic temple

What are the latest developments in acoustics? Saint-Gobain Ecophon decided to answer that question by organising a seminar at Plantronics in Hoofddorp to explain the latest innovations in this area. Experts from home and abroad highlighted the value of a good sound environment in work settings and the technologies available to optimise it.

At the new flagship office of Plantronics in Hoofddorp everything centres on the right acoustics, with the ultimate aim of creating an acoustic temple where people can work undisturbed. The headset manufacturer is setting out to promote job satisfaction and productivity. But Plantronics is doing much more with this aim in mind: from flexible working hours, good coffee and perfect office furniture, to fitness and games rooms and even a complete music studio.

There is a strong link between staff productivity and health and the sound environment.

Good acoustics a part of the sustainability mission

Acoustics is an important element of Plantronics’s mission to operate as sustainably as possible. That includes sustainable employability among its personnel. Research has shown that there is a strong link between staff productivity and health and the sound environment. The new office in Hoofddorp excels at sustainability. This is not only an inherent aspect of Park 20|20, the world’s first Cradle to Cradle industrial site, which is also completely energy neutral. There is also a robust CSR and biodiversity programme for the green industrial site.

Owen Zachariasse is an advisor for the Delta Development, which designed Park 20|20. Plantronics has taken a high quality approach to building its office, and has taken careful note of the adage “being less bad is not the same as being good”. They have done their utmost to implement the Cradle to Cradle concept by using circular materials, but have also paid attention to health and social responsibility. Together with Delta Development, Plantronics has done this so well that the building has been awarded a BREEAM Excellent certificate, the second-highest standard for sustainable buildings.

Meeting room at the Plantronics officeAn ideal open work environment offers variety

Plantronics also has ambitious plans regarding its employees’ wellbeing. The aim was to make the new office, which opened in April 2017, an ‘acoustic temple’. The core of the office, where people hold meetings and concentrate on their work, had to be free of distracting sounds, but also suitable for consultation and communication.

‘The ideal open work environment provides areas for working with others and areas for concentration’, explains Gideon van der Burg, Leesman’s Managing Director for the Benelux. Leesman conducts global studies into how work environments support users in their work.

The results of the studies are used in a global benchmark of over 340,000 respondents on the extent to which employees feel supported in their work. Companies score an average of 61.5 on the LMI (Leesman Index). Plantronics’s office gained a score of no less than 82.3 LMI.

Only 30.5% satisfied with acoustics

Gideon explains that noise is an important factor that has a seriously negative impact on how employees rate their work environment. Research has shown that only 30.5% of the 340,000 respondents are satisfied with the noise level at their place of work. This also has a huge impact on staff productivity, which is the main reason why Plantronics paid so much attention to good acoustics and gained a score of 67.7%.

Noise is an important factor that has a seriously negative impact on how employees rate their work environment.

‘Good acoustics is not only about the properties of the room, such as the spatial acoustics, the shape of the room and its layout, but also about individual properties’, explained Yvette Tietema, of Saint-Gobain Ecophon’s Concept Developer Office. By way of example Yvette pointed out that in an open office environment you can influence sound attenuation over distance by making use of the ceiling surface, but also by taking account of individual properties such as the activities and personal characteristics such as introversion and neuroticism.

Open plan office space at the Plantronics officeA curtain of ‘white sound’ helps concentration

Ecophon has supplied Plantronics with various products, such as Focus Ds and Master Matrix ceiling panels and an Solo Baffle system. These measures are intended to imitate the outdoor sound environment indoors. Additional measures have also been taken to create more privacy in the open work environment. Together with Saint-Gobain Ecophon’s ‘passive’ acoustics, active measures such as adding the Habitat Soundscaping system has also been taken.

The Habitat Soundscaping system, developed by Plantronics, is a white sound system. It consists of a network of sensors in the ceiling that creates a curtain of ‘white sound’ around a noise source. They emit the sound of rippling water. This interferes with the sound of the human voice in such a way that you hear sound without understanding the words that are said.

‘If you can’t understand words, you’re less easily distracted and are able to concentrate for longer’, explains Rainer Machner, Concept Developer at Ecophon Germany. Roman Cunsolo, Business Development Manager Habitat Soundscaping E&A at Plantronics, mentions an unexpected problem that arose in this active acoustic measure. ‘We found that people had to actually be able to see the water. Without visual confirmation they looked around in surprise, wondering where the sound was coming from.’

One of the world’s most highly rated offices

The results speak for themselves. Ecophon’s Concept Developer Rainer Machner recently measured the sound at Plantronics’s workplaces. He concluded that the combination of passive and active measures absorbs the sound well and thus improves privacy. Plantronics has met its employees’ needs up to a high level. And it works. The employees are feeling zen in Hoofddorp, and are so satisfied that Plantronics Hoofddorp scores 82.3 on the LMI, which places it among the world’s most highly rated offices.

 

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Ecophon Group Head office

Saint-Gobain Ecophon AB 
Box 500 
SE 265 03 Hyllinge

Phone: +46 42 17 99 00 
Fax: +46 42 22 59 29

Deliveries at: 
Yttervägen SE 265 75 Hyllinge

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Contact us

Ecophon Group Head office

Saint-Gobain Ecophon AB 
Box 500 
SE 265 03 Hyllinge

Phone: +46 42 17 99 00 
Fax: +46 42 22 59 29

Deliveries at: 
Yttervägen SE 265 75 Hyllinge

Ecophon Worldwide Contacts

Follow us: Facebook / YouTube / Twitter / LinkedIn