Acoustic insulation keeps the peace during home working and learning era

With the UK undergoing a third national lockdown, millions of homes will once again become makeshift work and learning places due to restrictions on non-essential travel and mass school closures. It’s an arrangement that will inevitably lead to the potential for rising tensions, as parents juggle business and family commitments in a less-spacious environment than the one they are accustomed to. In such circumstances, noise can be a disrupter to a harmonious and productive atmosphere, an issue that acoustic insulation was created to solve.  

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  • Published on
    21 January 2021
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Office for National Statistics figures show nearly half of the UK’s workforce (46.6%) had worked from home in 2020, mainly as a result of the pandemic. It is revealed that between May and June last year, 87% of UK households contained at least one child who was home schooling due to the coronavirus. These facts combine to paint one very clear picture: for many people, home is no longer a haven of retreat from the outside world, as education and business activity is played out within the same four walls for at least five of the week’s seven days.

Lockdown stress

Too much of a good thing can be bad, and whilst large swathes of the population embraced the first nationwide lockdown in March last year as a novel break from the norm, it appeared families soon tired of earning and learning together beneath the same roof.  A survey carried out in April 2020 by IT employment specialists CW Jobs, found that more than two thirds (68%) of parents felt stressed about having to work from home as well as look after their children. Fast forward 10 months and hope, in the form of a coronavirus vaccine, is on the horizon that lockdowns and restrictions might soon become a thing of the past, but many challenging weeks and months are likely to lie ahead.

For families fortunate enough to enjoy a large amount of living space, home working and schooling is less likely to be less of a stressful experience than those whose domestic conditions are less capacious. To perform efficiently in a commercial or classroom setting requires focus and shielding from distractions, particularly noise. Unfortunately, homes aren’t designed the same way as offices; there are no glazed partitions to block out noise or meeting rooms specifically built to hold private conversations.  

No, at home we have to make the best of an unfortunate situation by mentally switching off from the dog’s continued barking, the children’s arguing or the neighbour’s preference for ingesting music played at an unearthly decibel, whilst we toil. It’s not ideal, but of course these are far from ideal times that we are living in.

Road traffic is another source of sound interference. It’s become more of an issue as the density of housing projects increase in order to offset the UK property shortfall and optimise diminishing development space. Continued exposure to noise pollution can have extremely serious consequences. According to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report, 12.000 premature deaths per year in Europe are attributed to the long-term effects of noise caused by air, rail and road traffic alone. This type of ‘environmental turbulence’ is also proven to have a debilitating effect on a person’s mental health and wellbeing. 

Insulating against interruption

Fortunately, innovations in insulation mean home workers can protect themselves against sonic intrusion without completely sealing themselves off from the rest of the household or indeed, world. Acoustic insulation panels, for example, are proven to be particularly effective in reducing sound transmission between walls - up to 87% in some cases. Therefore, with the installation of high-performance acoustic products such as Recticel’s Instasoft®, a property’s wage earners can remain focused on the work in hand,  blissfully ignorant not only of noise emanating from neighbours and passing traffic, but from other rooms in the same house.

Instasoft® panels comprise a combination of fibres and recycled polyurethane foam, resulting in a slightly thinner, but far better-performing wall from an acoustic point of view. The panel’s bonding process is crucial to its acoustic performance, as it eliminates vibration between the wall and plasterboard to dampen excessive sound transmission. Instasoft® offers a cleaner, easy-to-apply, reliable alternative to more traditional acoustic solutions such as mineral wool, which would need to be applied with significantly greater density in order to attain a similar level of noise reduction.

It is hoped that later this year, with the vulnerable members of the populace vaccinated, life in the UK will start to resemble 2019 levels of normality. For expedient’s sake, however, it could be that home working is one of the pandemic rituals that becomes an oft talked about new norm. The IT technology is in place to make it happen, but ultimately it will depend on what works best for staff and employers. If it comes down to employees feeling the need to travel to work in order to separate home and office life, then Instasoft® offers a third way. By installing these sound absorbing acoustic panels, home workers will have sufficient peace in order to be productive, whilst their cohabitees – and neighbours – can rest and play their day away to create an altogether happier way of life for all concerned. 

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