Updated: Apr 27, 2020
After changing my profile status to Stop sending me Coronavirus memes, a good friend from Brazil insisted that I listen to a WhatsApp audio. She said 'It is hilarious'. I wondered if she read my status or if I should remind her of it, but in praise of asking people to be more tolerant and humane in this unprecedented time of global crisis, I surrendered and clicked on PLAY. I couldn't stop laughing.
There was nothing unusual in the audio apart of the funny accent of a woman complaining about her working-from-home husband as now the kids cannot shout, kids cannot cry, and the television volume should be turned down.
For those who can only concentrate in a quiet environment, working with the entire family in the lockdown can be quite hard. Conversely, it can also be difficult for other members in the household. After all, not everyone is happy to constraint the freedom of making noise.
There are simple ways to minimise the acoustic problems you may experience by suddenly having to work from home. I will share some tips on how to tackle the issues, all of which are within reach of what you have at home.
First al all, understand that the sound is a wave.
When it hits on a hard and flat surface, it will bounce.
When it hits on a soft or porous material, it will dissipate.
Secondly, understand the difference between Acoustic Insulation and Acoustic Absorption. Both have different purposes.
To separate your room from the source of noise generation, you have to provide efficient Acoustic Insulation. The same way you protect yourself from the cold by insulating your room, you do for the noise, so the 'airborne sound' does not penetrate. If you have gaps or cracks around the window when it is closed, you will still hear the noise from outside. The sound wave will find its way in.
Acoustic Absorption is applied not to ensure the insulation or separation but to reduce the noise level, in a more simplistic way of describing.
If you have been in an indoor swimming pool, you usually find the space loud. You can hear the splash of each stroke (outside of water, of course) or loud and echoing cheers. This is because its walls, floor and ceiling are made of flat and hard surfaces, reflecting all the noises altogether. A sound recording studio, on the other hand, has the wall covered with foam panels so the sound waves, when hit the wall, can dissipate. The foam panels are used as acoustic absorbent.
What follows are some 'lockdown at home' scenarios.
Working in the same room as several sources of noise generation, a technical term here for your kids, tv or someone in the open plan kitchen doing something.
Strategy: Acoustic Absorption