April 2016 archive

How Does Soundproofing the Office Enhance Concentration?

As the popularity of an open plan office continues to grow, there are a variety of practical issues which many businesses neglect when beginning to design the office layout. Factors such as colour choices and acoustic control have a significant impact on the productivity of staff, despite the effects not being immediately obvious. Office design needs to create a comfortable environment which helps people to concentrate and while huge rooms with clean white walls and amazing hardwood floors look great, they are a horrible space to work in. In particular, when deadlines loom, the constant clacking of that beautiful oak floor can become unsurprisingly infuriating.

Many interior designers will now advise you based on acoustic as well as aesthetic design, but if you don’t have the budget to commission one, then it’s important to take note. While the overall look of your office has obvious benefits, it is the practical elements which need to be at the heart of the design. If you choose to have an open office layout, then you will be hoping to work towards a dynamic environment which allows relationships to flourish and creativity to flow. However, no team is perfect and over time as staff continue to work in the same space, gripes can begin to emerge and the environment which began as a great collaborative workspace can transform into a room full of tension.

One major element which contributes to this is sound, whether it is in conversations from across the room, phones ringing throughout the day or even just the sound of footsteps walking past you, these can all destroy your focus and concentration. To remedy this, many office designs now incorporate acoustic foam as well as more heavy duty materials which are tasked with absorbing ambient noise. A common misconception with acoustic foam is that it will be able to block out sound altogether, however, due to the way that soundwaves work, this would take such a meticulous and expensive design that you would probably be better off having multiple private offices.

Sound feels quite linear as our ears seemingly instantly detect the sound. However, the source of where that comes from is the result of vibrations causing the sound wave to go from the original source to our ear drum. For example, when someone is speaking to you, the sound causes vibrations in the air which bounce all around you. To interpret these, when the sound waves reach our ear drums, they cause them to vibrate. Initially these would be unintelligible such as if someone was trying to speak to you from far away. However, the louder the person speaks, the greater the vibrations are on the ear drum, which the brain can then interpret to understand the meaning.

So basically, as long as the sound is loud enough to cause our ear drums to vibrate, our brain instinctively begins to decipher the sound. For our ancestors, this would be fantastic as a warning system for oncoming predators. However, in an open office environment, it means that heated conversations, phones ringing and shoes stomping, all cause us to lose concentration. The reason that we don’t pick up absolutely every sound is because as the sound wave bounds off in every direction, they lose energy rapidly and once this runs out, the sound dissipates.

This is why it is crucial to integrate acoustic control into the office design, as while you will never be able to block out sound altogether, you can create an environment which helps to dissipate soundwaves and help people to concentrate. Simple additions such as carpets are great for absorbing noise, but more advanced solutions such as acoustic screens are fantastic at stopping the sound at the source. Here at Rap Industries, we have developed the Delta Acoustic Screens for this very purpose. Featuring a vibrant and modern design which is combined with innovate acoustic foam, these provide a very effective way of absorbing ambient noise in the office.

If you would like to know more about how Delta Acoustic Screens can help your open office environment, then please feel free to get in touch by calling 01733 394941 or by sending an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

 

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How the Colour Blend in the Office has Risen in Importance

Colour has always been an instinct for humans and can be so subtle that thousands of years of our ancestors probably never realised it. In the primitive times of technology, simple aspects such as colour formed the very first kinds of communication, many of which are still prevalent today. Think about how you feel when sat by a river, as the water gently flows past you and the chaos of urban life slowly ebbs from your mind.

If you were to ask someone what they associate with blue, chances are they will instinctively say the sea. How about yellow? Sunshine, obviously. By creating such an intrinsic link, you could then ask someone how they feel when they think of the colour blue? I would wager there is a reliable probability they will say it evokes the feeling of calmness and serenity we normally associate with flowing water.

However, it has only been in recent times where we have begun to realise how our passive understanding of colours can be used to maximise productivity and happiness. While many of us will decorate our home to our tastes, the concept of customising the workspace is very much a recent theory. In the past, the workplace has been the beacon of professionalism and efficiency, environments which were designed to maximise proficiency by resembling factories. Unsurprisingly, humans are not quite as straightforward as machines, and white, beige and dull grey walls only serve to increase stress levels and lead to more absenteeism.

Now in modern times, the workplace is become increasingly diversified as many seek to create spaces which represent their brand. A key proponent behind this is the use of colour and many of the colours found in a company’s logo are increasingly being transferred across to the office. Have you ever taken a moment to consider why major brands use the colours they do in their iconic logos? BP makes the most of green and yellow to present an image of health and growth, Apple solely uses neutral colours to promote the idea of calm and cleanliness, meanwhile Virgin uses a bright red to emphasise its boldness.

The same can be applied in the office, whether it is on the paint on the walls, the colour of the floor, or the colours of partition screens. Creative departments are increasingly surrounded by yellows and purples to encourage creativity and imagination, meanwhile financial departments utilise greens and blues to promote calmness and serenity. There is a huge variety of colours available which passively lead our minds astray and encouraging emotions which we would not otherwise have had.

In open offices, it is best to avoid huge colour clashes for aesthetic purposes, which is why it is becoming increasingly popular to utilise vibrant partition screens to accent various departments with relevant colours. This allows the walls to be blanketed with a universal brand colour, meanwhile, closer personalisation can be applied through the use of partition screens. The Delta Acoustic Partition Screens from Go Displays are perfect for this kind of environment as they incorporate a modern design with 20 different Fizz fabric colours.

If morale is beginning to dip, or absenteeism is steadily beginning to rise, then consider a re-design of the office. Not only does the process encourage a degree of excitement, it can become symbolic for a fresh start, one in which you can create a more enjoyable working environment for employees and help to project your brand values through them. If you would like to learn more about how Delta Acoustic Screens can help you to achieve this, then please give us a call on 01733 394941 or send an e-mail to sales@rapind.com

 

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Why Managing Acoustics is Crucial for Boosting Productivity and Health

For modern interior design, the focus falls on transforming spaces into aesthetically pleasing open offices which encourage collaboration and teamwork. The traditional cubicle style has evolved drastically in recent history into hubs designed towards bundling teams together to work towards the collective goal. But while these environments are pleasing on the eye, the practicality of them is often limited as they often do more to hinder teamwork than they do to encourage it. Wherever we are, we use all of our senses to absorb our surroundings and something we often neglect is sound. Whether we are sat alone in a room or in a bustling train, sound can have a seriously detrimental impact on us.

This is especially the case in open office environments where phones are ringing constantly throughout the day and the inescapable earworm of your neighbour chatting away persists. For many workers, the biggest disturbance at work is overhearing the conversations of others and no matter how much we may try to ignore them, we always passively concentrate on what is being said, regardless of how mundane it may be. Studies have shown that disturbances such as these can occupy up to two thirds of the attention that we can muster, leaving very little room to concentrate on the work at hand.

Constant disturbances can be frustrating at the time, but when left to linger, they can foster a range of mental and health implications. When deadlines are approaching, having to listen to your neighbour discussing their plans for the weekend can aggravate stress levels. If this is the case for one member of staff, then you can be pretty sure that it is common amongst the majority of the workforce as well. In the end, what began as frustration, can lead to increased absenteeism and bouts of sickness as noise levels continue to spiral.

The answer fortunately, is not to condemn your office to complete silence. While tricky, the key component of office design is to create an acceptable level of ambient noise. This allows conversations to continue, but adds a degree of control to distort sound and removes that impossible allure of listening in to what others have to say. Eradicating conversations altogether merely creates an oppressive environment, which defeats the whole point of the open office in the first place. For example, blood pulses will only continue to boil when a phone call does have to be made and the whole office has the pleasure of listening in.

Employing an interior designer to take these concerns into consideration can be an expensive option, but there is still plenty you can do, especially if you have a smaller office to contend with. Neat tricks such as blindfolding yourself and picking out areas where noise peaks can allow you to identify places where acoustic control is required. An important factor to recognise is that sound bounces off of hard surfaces, so unfortunately hardwood floors are incredibly impractical for your offices. This also means that adding soft surfaces such as carpets as well as padding on the walls and ceiling, are incredibly effective at soaking up ambient office noise.

An alternative to those is to invest in acoustic partition screens which combine acoustic absorbent foam with a stylish design to help confine conversations to each desk while contributing to the overall design of the office. At Rap Industries, we manufacture the Delta Acoustic Screen which incorporate this vibrant design and each screen can be tailor made to adapt to each office environment.

The benefits of managing to keep volume levels under control can be subtle, but you are certainly more likely to notice the negatives when the noise becomes unbearable. Failing to keep a lid on things can lead to it spiralling out of control as employees clamber to speak over each other, so it is pivotal to keep a track of levels, especially as your business continues to grow. If you would like to learn more about how the Delta Acoustic Screens can help to contain ambient office noise in your workplace, then please give our team of advisors a call on 01733 394941 or send them an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

 

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How Office Design Has Evolved Since the 1970s

When Rap Industries first began to manufacture office equipment back in 1975, the way that offices operated was significantly different. It was before the advent of the computer as Microsoft was only just being established, therefore offices hummed with the clacking of typewriters and in a select few, the resonating hum of the very first computer terminals. The widespread trend of cubicle offices grew dramatically as economic necessity saw office pods littered around open plan offices in the vast majority of businesses across the United Kingdom.

The sight of partition screens scattered across the office is gradually coming to an end, but it has been their widespread success which has helped Rap Industries to grow. With so many unique working environments, initial suppliers sold standardized screens, however by manufacturing the partition screens, Rap Industries have been able to create bespoke partition screens for customers for over 40 years. Well before the days of soft touch keyboards, even the sound of co—worker’s voices were drowned out by the ratcheting sound of multiple type-writers on the go, which led to the development of acoustic partition screens to keep ambient office noise under control.

Personal computers first began to emerge in offices in 1977 with the release of the Apple II PC, which has since gone on to revolutionise how businesses operate. Four decades on, as computers spent 40 years as a mainstay in offices around the world, we are finally beginning to see the end of rigid workplace structures. With the advent of portable technology such as laptops and tablets that are combined with the power of the internet, employees no longer need to be seated at their desk to get work done. This has led to flexible working hours and office design changing drastically to keep up with a more dynamic workforce.

Elsewhere in the office dynamic, as fashions have changed, the typical suit attire has slowly ebbed away barring the key figures in each business. For women, the past 40 years has triggered a drastic shift in workplace perception. In the 1970s, the general consensus was still that women should serve in menial clerical roles before taking up their supposed true calling of being the homemaker. In fact, the term ‘sexual harassment in the workplace’ was not even coined until the 1980s, which demonstrates quite how far we have progressed.

While 40 years may not appear like a long time, much has changed. From computer terminals which could operate basic functions to being able to access an unlimited bank of information that we can hold in our pockets, the way we live and the places we work in have advanced significantly. Office design has been one of the key factors attempting to keep up with this pace, as design briefs now focus on creating environments which enable employees to work to their best ability.

At Rap Industries, it is this focus which has led to the development of the Delta Acoustic Screens. A far cry from the cubicles which dominated open plan offices 40 years ago, the Delta Acoustic Screens adopt a vibrant design and combine it was acoustic foam, ensuring that there are subtle tools available within office design to help soak up ambient office noise. If you would like to learn more about how Delta Acoustic Screens are revolutionising the workplace, then please give our team of advisors a call on 01733 394941 or send them an e-mail to sales@rapind.com.

 

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Why A Family Run Business is a Seal of Quality

The statement that a business is family run is often laid out without relevant context and ultimately what it actually means for a company to be able to trace its heritage back to a family with the same surname. On the surface, the idea of family generally rubs off on the company with traditions of creating trustworthy partnerships and promoting sustainability at the heart of the company ethos. What this means for customers is being able to work with a supplier which is committed to giving you a quality service, where the product you receive matches exactly what you need it for.

One major difference between family-run businesses and privately owned companies is the aims and objectives of both. Private organisations which are run by an elaborate chain of command which ultimately listen to the word of shareholders, will in general focus on short term gains such as profit margins. While this is great in theory, companies such as these do not show growth, instead profits are received by the shareholders without significant further investment in infrastructure of the company to further promote sales.

Alternatively, family-owned businesses work on a long term strategy which ultimately focuses on 10 to 20 years down the line when incumbent family members prepare to take over at the top of the hierarchy. Rather than the family consuming the profits, they are instead re-invested in the company to encourage growth in the years to come. This emphasises growth in premises, staff as well as innovation to ensure sustained growth.

A defining feature of this investment is the retention of labour which can be found in family-run businesses. Rather than aiming to retain staff on a financial basis, they instead create strong company cultures by promoting from within and investing in training for staff. As a result, employees are encouraged to remain with the company with the prospect of personal growth. This provides significant advantages in the long term as staff have extensive experience in the inner workings of the company, meaning that customer service is often exceptional due to the detailed knowledge held by employees.

This long term model is often reaffirmed by a family-run business’s commitment to support local communities around which they are based. Private companies are generally driven by the need to boost sales through aggressive advertising, whereas for family-owned companies, the emphasis is centred around creating a reputation in the local community. This is built upon the foundation of quality service where they can be contacted directly by customers who can identify exactly what they need and can work closely with the company to acquire this.

The basis for success amongst family-owned businesses is built upon the foundations of continual improvement with the long term prosperity of the family at heart. This is tempered with passion, professionalism and a strict assessment of their impact in the local as well as wider impact in the community. It is companies that manage to strike this balance which show consistent success, during both the good times and the bad. Being able to create a business which is reputable in the community for quality products and services as well as giving back to those who are employed by the company and have completed business with them, has been the keystone for the success of family-owned businesses for centuries.

 

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Then and Now – What Britain Was Like the Year Rap Industries Was Founded

41 years ago when Rap Industries was first founded, Britain was very different, but during a period which was rife with terrorism and economic turmoil, the reality was surprisingly similar to the Britain we live in today. The monarch, Queen Elizabeth II remains the same to this day and we have been through a wealth of prime ministers both good and bad. It was the year when Britain last voted on our participation in Europe and also the last time that junior doctors went on strike, showing many issues which affected Britain back then continue to affect us now.

In 1975, Harold Wilson’s Labour Party led the country during a double dip recession, which was very similar to the situation we have recently come through in Britain. At the same time, Margaret Thatcher rose to become the first female leader of the Conservative Party, all while miners accepted a 35% pay increase which would serve as a pre-cursor for the years to come. Meanwhile, the country voted on whether to leave the European community which was the international body that would later develop into the European Union. With a similar referendum occurring in 2016, it is well worth noting that 67% voted to remain in Europe over 40 years ago.

There is further correlation between the economy then and now as Britain entered a double dip recession in 1975 in scenes that have since been replicated far more recently. In fact, two of the major issues facing the country were rising inflation and unemployment rates which were setting levels unseen since records began in 1750. History showed that reaffirming our relationship in Europe led to an economic recovery, however whether that effect is direct or indirect, it will be interesting to see the direction Britain takes later this year.

While terrorism may only feel like a fairly recent phenomenon after the rise of groups such as Al-Qaeda, its origins began much closer to home. Britain has long had a tumultuous relationship with Ireland ever since Oliver Cromwell invaded during the 17th century as he sought to integrate the Emerald Isles with Britain. Ever since, Ireland has been divided between the Republic in the south and Northern Ireland who are ultimately split over whether to remain part of Britain. This boiled over during the 1970s as bombs were set off by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) in tube stations as well as the London Hilton hotel.

In terms of popular culture, 1975 marked the beginning of cult classic television series including ‘Fawlty Towers’ and the now controversial ‘Jim’ll Fix it’. It also marked the birth of classic songs such as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen and ‘Fame’ by David Bowie.

Certainly, a lot has indeed changed since Rap Industries first began manufacturing office equipment 41 years ago. Although, some of the similarities are quite remarkable, meanwhile others continue to have substantial impact on society today. One thing for sure is that as the world has continued to innovate, so have we, but not without keeping track of what matters most, the satisfaction of our customers.

 

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