Feb 28th 2019

Non-Permanent Acoustic Solutions for Coworking Spaces

John Stein

Today’s coworking spaces are more fluid and flexible than ever, transforming by the day or even by the hour. As such, interior products must be able to adapt to varying environments, often without causing damage to existing walls. This poses a challenge for coworking spaces and designers where space uses—one day a meeting room, another day a quiet work area—and acoustic needs frequently change.

Too often architects, interior designers, and contractors use acoustic solutions that are permanently installed, which don’t meet the need to leave walls pristine for the next user. However, there is no need to forego acoustic treatments; Kirei offers several non-permanent, non-damaging EchoPanel options that still enable acoustic design to change with the needs of changing space occupants.

The Coworking Trend

Coworking continues to be a game changer in the workplace design and real estate world. JLL released research on the coworking industry trends heading into 2019, noting that coworking spaces now account for 5 percent of U.S. office space—and are expected to account for 30 percent in the next 11 years.

Non Permanent Acoustic Solutions Moovel 1

Image Source: Spacious communal area at the moovel office in Portland; photo credit Lara Swimmer Photography

There are many reasons behind this explosive growth trajectory. Corporations are looking to reduce their exposure to long term leases, while still appealing to their employees varying work styles. With this in mind, landlords are re-working their existing spaces by providing spec suites with short terms spaces or expanding on shared amenity areas for building tenants. Additionally, coworking providers are expanding their reach beyond shared workspaces for startups by adding zones specifically designed for enterprise clients.

It is clear the current flexible workspace trend is evolving toward more scalable models of creating coworking communities. With these more scalable models, comes the need for products that can offer equal agility—which is where non-permanent installation methods come into play.

Why Acoustic Control?

Although it seems obvious, workspaces have differing acoustic needs- meeting spaces, especially teleconference spaces need clear voice communication, as well as privacy. Work spaces need to have a comfortable, non-distracting acoustic environment. As occupants recognize this they are no longer accepting booming, echo-y conference rooms or work spaces. The easiest way to control the sound quality in a space is by adding the proper amount of sound-absorbing surfaces to offset the hard floors, walls and ceilings that are common in co-working spaces. By considering the needs and desires of occupants, co-working spaces can provide premium occupant satisfaction, increasing retention and value.

Fully Deployable Acoustics

The first, and most obvious, non-permanent acoustic solution involves movable partitions such as the Wrap, Paling, and Platoons screens. Each of these modular free-standing partitions sits ground level and offers tool-free installation. For example, the EchoPanel Wrap Partition was designed to be a kit of parts that enables stylish, flexible space division. It can easily be configured—typically just by one person—in a variety of ways, allowing for flexibility and easy assembly.

Non Permanent Acoustic Solutions Echopanel Platoon 1

Image Source: EchoPanel Platoon Screens pictured above

EchoPanel Paling screen dividers and EchoPanel Platoon Screens are additional visibly impressive, flexible sound absorbing partitions that can be set up and moved into place in seconds with no tools required.

Hand Tool Deployable Acoustics

This next category of acoustic solutions may require a step ladder, screwdriver, and two people for installation, however, each are still able to be moved or removed without major upheaval or damage to surfaces.

Magnetic Installation

First, magnets are a great option for either EchoBlade or EchoScreen. A metal structure or substrate is needed to install with magnets, such as a ceiling with corrugated steel or beams. Once that requirement is met, then each EchoBlade or EchoScreen system can be specified with a magnet mounting kit.

Echoblade Hardware

Image Source: Picture of EchoBlade as an example of the product being magnetized to a grid ceiling

Suction Cup Installation

EchoScreen can also be installed to glass walls and windows with suction cups. Installers simply screw the suction cups into the screen from the glass-facing side and distribute the suction cup locations evenly throughout the screen.

Echoscreen Lytx Gym Joel Zwink

Image Source: EchoScreens with a bird vignette were suction cupped to the glass at the Lytx gym; photo credit Joel Zwink

ACT Grid Installation

EchoFold is a great-looking acoustic solution that can drop into an ACT (acoustical ceiling tile) grid for a fresh, new ceiling style. EchoFold is created by folding the material at precut seams and gluing to a substrate. These panels then replace standard acoustic tiles, creating new looks that can easily be changed out, as well as high acoustic performance.

Ep Echofold 273 Office Commercial Ceiling Elum Photos

Image Source: EchoFold installed in an ACT grid pictured above

Removeable or Reusable Acoustics

The last category of non-permanent acoustic products and installation methods include options that require power tools, professional installation, and competent installation and removal. For ceiling systems, our first choice is either baffles or clouds—These often only require minimal attachment points to avoid big holes when removing. This assumes you can permanently install the attachment points to the ceiling for the cable drops using gated gripper hooks—as all elements are easily removed or reusable. Kirei offers a number of designs and styles, including: Simple Baffles, EchoSky, EchoStar, or EchoCloud.

For wall solutions, we recommend EchoScreen Rolling Track, EchoPanel Mura Tiles, EchoPanel with Z-Clip or French Cleat, or an EchoScreen install in front of a wall with an air gap (which is less invasive than mounting directly to the wall). Each of these provides rapidly reconfigurable acoustics and decor options with minimal installation or removal damage.

The growing need for workplace flexibility and agility is something that cannot be ignored as the buzz around coworking spaces continues. Rather than bypass acoustic solutions, we are here to help you find an installation method that works for your needs and for your space!


Contact your Kirei rep to explore flexible, non-permanent installation methods for all your acoustic product needs!


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