Office Evolution Chooses Atlas IED for Sound Masking Update
Westport, Connecticut lies within the suburbs of Manhattan. The close proximity made Westport an attractive location for a shared workplace franchise called Office Evolution. The 8000-square-foot Office Evolution Westport location opened in March 2019 to serve regional businesses and entrepreneurs who wanted a space to work and call their own. The location has 36 private offices, two conference rooms, a coworking lounge, and phone booths for coworking members to take calls, plus all the critical shared amenities needed in a proper workspace, including high-speed WiFi, printers, mail service, coffee and even a receptionist for members who need it. A franchise business with 80 U.S. locations, Office Evolution spaces are often strategically situated in suburban areas near larger metropolitan areas where people live to reduce long commutes, increase personal balance, and allow for easy access to public transportation and highways to nearby cities.
The Westport location experienced significant interest during its first several months of operation. Less than a year later, the COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to implement work-from-home-only policies, and the Westport office became quiet. But, as people returned to the workplace, shared office spaces like Office Evolution started filling up with individuals, some of whom wanted someplace to work remotely, some who took advantage of flexible work policies to avoid the commute to Manhattan, and some who started a new business during the pandemic. Occupancy skyrocketed post-pandemic, and the workspace became busier, which led the company to turn to AtlasIED to solve one particular challenge.
As with most busy offices, the more people in the location talking and working, the louder and more difficult it can be for others to focus and work, and the easier it becomes to overhear possibly sensitive conversations from adjacent individuals in the space. With a range of business types operating out of the Westport location, businesses such as financial planners, healthcare providers, therapists, and legal professionals were naturally concerned about maintaining the confidentiality of their discussions. Westport location owner Laura Kaufman began to receive questions from members about privacy and people wanted to ensure their conversations remained confidential.
“At Office Evolution, culture runs deep, and we want the Westport office members to feel like the office is their own,” said Kaufman. “All internal considerations, including the office layout, amenities, location, and even the office technology, return to the impact on our members and community.”
With the feedback in mind, Kaufman researched various solutions for her office and found AtlasIED sound masking solutions. After discussing the range of options available, AtlasIED introduced her to Antony Vaughn, a Senior Account Executive at the building design and AV integration company, DGI Communications of Billerica, Massachusetts. Vaughn selected a range of AtlasIED sound masking products to help improve privacy and acoustic comfort in the office space and created a plan to install the system in the least invasive way to the members.
“One of the challenges we face with any project is the timing of the actual installation itself,” said Vaughn. “For Office Evolution, we pulled cables in the early mornings to avoid disrupting members, and then installed speakers only during lunch breaks, or before and after hours. This timing worked well for this particular space and working environment.”
With Vaughn’s direction, Kaufman chose the AtlasIED Z4-B as the location’s central sound masking control system. The Z Series all-in-one wall-mounted acoustical system generates sound masking signals, and can also be used for paging or playing background music. DGI then installed AtlasIED’s M1000 sound masking loudspeakers, which accurately reproduced a masking signal in the ceiling.
DGI created several masking zones in the coworking space, including the conference rooms, general working areas, and hallways. Because of the space utilization and occupancy differences, the team needed to adjust sound masking levels for each zone. For instance, DGI tuned the sound masking in the common working spaces near offices and conference rooms at a higher volume to ensure privacy for in-person and video meetings conducted behind closed doors and reduce distraction in adjacent areas. The system is customizable and flexible, as users can change settings in any zone directly through the Z4-B’s controls and LED display.
Office Evolution members’ average stay is 5-6 years; approximately 70 percent of current members are long-term. Since installing sound masking at the Westport location, retention rates are up for existing members, and they continue to extend their contracts.. “Our members are pleased with the effectiveness of the technology, especially because it is so discreet,” said Kaufman. “We even tell prospective members about our AtlasIED sound masking system and they see it as a valuable amenity in our space.” The invisible technology has enhanced member comfort, privacy, and productivity, increasing member retention and sales.”
Given the effectiveness of the technology and the response to sound masking by existing members in Westport, Kaufman is making it part of the technology package for her second location in Boca Raton, Florida. Additionally, Kaufman has shared her experience with the Office Evolution corporate team. The company is reviewing the results and member feedback to consider it a core technology for future franchise location build-outs.
Kaufman said, “Our goal is to ensure everyone is happy and productive here, and the AtlasIED technology is helping us accomplish that. I’m extremely pleased with the addition of the technology to enhance the office environment. It truly helps our members have a better experience.”
The system at the Westport Office Evolution also represented the first time Vaughn used AtlasIED sound masking products and complementary design services, but after the results and the customer feedback, it’s by no means their last. Vaughn said, “The sound masking installation at Office Evolution has become a showroom of sorts for DGI, as we’ve brought a large number of potential customers to the location to the offices to listen. When you experience it, you really get a sense for its effectiveness.”