Spec Finish

Technical FIS recently hosted a round table event to discuss with the attendees on the panel the shift to meeting pods and the significance of acoustic performance in their selection. MEETING PODS: IS ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCE THE MISSING FACTOR? 22 www.thefis.org D EMOUNTABLE and relocatable partitioning systems were the go-to when it comes to dividing commercial spaces into offices meeting rooms and small study areas. However, the market for meeting pods has rapidly gained traction. A larger, more practical structure than the office phone booth, the meeting pod is proving itself to be a worthy contender. They provide workers with a refuge for private meetings, phone calls, video conferences, or a private space for tasks which require concentration, or health and wellbeing concerns. The post Covid-19 office landscape Nigel Boreham, Owner of Showcase Interiors argued that the trends of office design are dictated by the changes in culture, so, before COVID-19 there was already some discussion around whether employers are providing enough semi-private spaces. He said: “Pods have gained popularity due to the fact that they made refurbishments and fit-outs easier. It was seen as a ‘furniture solution’ which was mobile and didn’t require any construction, so, pods became a method of delivering that private space within an office space that can be dropped in and moved easily”. Mark Randall, Managing Director at IOR Group said “There are two types of pods, one which is a telephone box and the other which is basically a room. I think people can be cynical about any sort of ratings these days, given what we’ve been told about carbon emissions in cars and those sorts of things”. The multiple use cases of a pod: how important is acoustic design? In order for themarket to truly understand the value of a pod, its usemust first be defined, to understand which characteristics of the pod offer value, including its acoustic design. Despite the attention given to acoustics, Ros Lambert-Porter, Regional Manager and Principal Associate at Hawkins & Associates suggested that pods have many uses. She said: “What I’m finding increasingly with pods is their use in neurodiversity. I’ve completed a couple of projects now where we’ve installed specific kinds of pods. The pod has become a means of escaping the normal working environment and takes neurodiversity within the workspace into account.” Ros shared a story about a call centre she had worked with where employees were actually spending their breaks in their cars because they needed to get away. As this is the case pods can be a safe haven to provide emotional comfort. The problem with the specification Joe Cilia, Technical Director at FIS highlighted the heightened concern of compliance and specification, and the ambiguity surrounding acoustic test data. Ben Southgate, Principal Acoustic Engineer at Sandy Brown strongly agreed with Joe’s comments and said: “It’s only when I started to get involved with these products that I realised how different the test data is that’s out there. Some tests are conducted in a laboratory, some are on site, and some are something else altogether. The problemwe are finding is there isn’t a standardised test that works across the industry. People are coming up with their ownmethod of testing which is perfectly valid, however, not comparable. So, I am comparing apples with an AppleMac.” Left side from the wall Nigel Boreham, Joe Cilia and Ben Southgate. Right side from the wall Peter Long, Mark Randall, Phill Banks and Ros Lambert-Porter Joe Cilia, FIS Technical Director

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