If you work in a large and busy office, you know that trying to focus on your work with people talking all of the time can be very difficult. Your coworkers are great, but the noise levels they create are distractions that you may not be able to afford.
You’re not alone with this problem. Offices that have cubicles are known for being some of the most disruptive work environments you can have. Do you know why? It’s because of the large noise issue.
However, there are ways you can deal with the noise levels and get your work done. Cubicles are here to stay, but there are several easy solutions you can implement to reduce or cancel the noise pollution that makes it in through and over your cubicle wall. Our soundproofing tips will help you create a distraction-free workspace.
Of these 15 items, you can do some by yourself without needing permission from a higher power. You will have to ask your boss about some of them. If you own your own business, you can implement these tips to create a great working environment for your employees.
Before we get to the tips, we’ll give you all of the material we reference this is piece. This way, you can easily purchase them to help keep your cubicle quieter. They are:
- Thick Fabrics
- Canvas Art
- Desk Storage
- Large Area Rug
- Insulating Foam Sealant
- Foam Pieces
- Floor Mat
- Acoustic Panels
- Soundproof Curtain
- Acoustic Room Dividers
- White Noise Fan
- Hanging Panels
- White Noise Machine
- Acoustic Ceiling Tiles
15 Simple Ideas for Office Noise Reduction
You can try one or try multiple steps below and see which ones work best for you. I know I had to combine a few to get the beset results, but I work in a very crowded and noise office space.
1. Line the Cubicle Walls with Thick Fabrics
If you work in a low to middle noise environment, adding a thick fabric liner to your cubicle wall can help to muffle the noise. You can drape or pin this fabric over every wall of your cubicle, and you want to concentrate on the areas that re most problematic. It’ll absorb the sound, and this allows you to concentrate on your work.
Heavier moving blankets can stop sound from passing through the fibers, and they’re a less expensive option that you can try on your own. These heavy blankets come in a range of colors, and they’re unobtrusive enough to stay out of your way.
2. Consider Softer Furnishings
A lot of noise in and around cubicles comes from sound echoing back off of all of the hard surfaces in the cubicle itself like the floor, desk, chair leg, computer, and walls. A simple way to reduce the amount of echo you hear is to add softer furnishings to your cubicle.
Add a few small potted plants, a cushion for your chair, or canvas wall hangings. Any soft addition you can think of that doesn’t get in your way can help absorb the echos and give you a quieter environment.
If it’s possible, ask your boss if it’s okay to rearrange your cubicle to get away from a problem area. If you have room, see if they’ll install a bookshelf or a new cabinet in problem areas to help absorb the sound. All of these small tweaks ensure the sound doesn’t have anywhere to bounce, and the echos will die.
3. Add Carpeting
Another thing that can cancel out a lot of the noise is to add or lay carpeting down in your office instead of having traditional hard flooring. High heels sound very loud when they clack against the flooring, and it can be a distraction every time someone gets up and walks across the floor.
The denser and thicker a fabric is, the more area it covers when you lay it down. While throw rugs work for a small area, consider getting a larger area rug or piece of carpet to deaden the sound.
4. Block Small Crannies and Nooks
Sound is very tricky to stop, and any tiny cracks, holes, or gaps will allow sound to travel through into your cubicle. One fix is to get insulating foam sealant and fill any nooks or crannies you see around and in your cubicle. The foam will expand into the area after you spray it, and it’ll stop the sound waves.
If you’re not allowed to spray the foam in your office, get small pieces of high-density cushion foam, rip it up, and stuff it into any holes or cracks. If you have space along the bottom of your cubicle, put small strips of foam here as well.
5. Use Rubber Floor Mats
When you combine rubber floor mats with carpet or large rugs, you get both a softer floor to walk on and a sound-deadening surface. This is a very cost-effective solution, and all you have to do is slip the mats under the carpets or rugs.
If you can cover almost the entire office floor with this combination, it’ll greatly reduce the noise levels and echos. Just make sure both the carpeting and mats are dense and thick to have the biggest impact possible.
6. Attach Soundproof Panels to Your Cubicle Walls
You’ll pay in a little for this trick, but it’s a relatively cost-effective option to help deaden sound. One thing you do want to do is ask your boss for approval before you go this route because you’ll attach the panels directly to your cubicle wall. If they say yes, you can get to work.
Soundproof foam panels are the things you see when you look inside most music recording studios, and you can buy entire packs of them before having them sent straight to your office. The trick is to cover as much of your cubicle walls as you possibly can with the panels.
They work to reduce both the outside noise and the inside echos. However, this doesn’t guarantee a completely quiet workspace. It can significantly reduce the amount of noise you hear throughout the day, though.
7. Hang Soundproof Curtains
If your office is a low or middle noise level environment, this is a quick fix that can drastically muffle the noise. Get soundproof curtains and hang them from the ceiling so they overlap your cubicle walls. Getting a thick enough material for this process should ensure that it blocks out almost all of the noise coming from outside of your cubicle.
8. Raise Your Cubicle Wall Height
Arguably one of the most effective ways to soundproof your space is to either buy taller cubicle walls or raise the existing ones. These freestanding partition walls are very well built, easy to install, and they absorb sound wonderfully. You can use these partitions individually, or you can zip the walls together.
Unfortunately, these partitions are more expensive, and you wouldn’t be able to finance them for your entire office on your own. Secondly, you’ll need your boss’s permission to bring these partitions into the office. They may be hesitant to do this if they can’t get enough for the whole office.
9. Install a White Noise Fan
This white noise fan will keep you cool while you work, but it can provide you with a constant humming noise that can effectively cancel out a lot of other distracting noises. They’re small, lightweight, and unobtrusive enough to set in the corner of your cubicle on your desk.
The noise is low enough that it shouldn’t provide a distraction to your coworkers in their cubicles. These fans are also more cost-effective than other options on our list, but you can combine a few tips together to get comprehensive noise cancellation.
10. Hanging Acoustic Panels
If you own or run your own business, hanging acoustic panels in your workspace is a great way to encourage productivity on your employee’s parts. These panels come made specifically to block office reverberation, and they’ll instantly dampen any excess noise. You can suspend them vertically, and many offices use these panels as an alternative to traditional cubicle walls.
These panels are more expensive, but they can be well worth the investment if you have a smaller office. You won’t have to buy as many, and your employees will start to notice a difference in the noise levels right away.
11. White Noise Machine
Sound conditioners like a white noise machine can help with masking distracting noises. A lot of people buy them to help them sleep, but they work just as well in an office environment. A constant, steady noise can improve your concentration levels while helping you block out anything else.
They emit a neutral audio sound, and this noise effectively creates a sound background that blurs noises and conversations. You’ll still have some noise interference, but it’s relatively low when you compare it to not having the machine running. This requires zero effort on your part, and it won’t distract your coworkers.
12. Rearrange Your Office Layout
Take a few days and pinpoint the loud cubicles and the quiet cubicles. Take the quieter teams and place them as far away from the loud teams as possible in cubicle blocks. This strategy will reduce the noise for the teams who get distracted or bothered by it, and the ones that don’t mind working with it won’t be bothered.
13. Add Acoustic Ceiling Tiles
You can quickly and easily soundproof your flooring and walls, but you have to soundproof the ceiling to complete the process. Adding acoustic ceiling tiles over your cubicle will stop sound from bouncing off the ceiling and entering your cubicle.
Those tiles come in several different sizes, and the classic black color scheme goes with almost any office decor. You can find other tiles in different colors if you like, and remember to ask your boss’s permission before trying to install them yourself.
14. Upgrade the Phone Systems
One of the biggest noise complaints in offices is coworkers using the telephone system and talking too loudly. One easy thing you can do is upgrade your phone system and swap out the traditional handset for headsets with microphones. This will drastically reduce the noise levels throughout your office.
15. Educate Your Workers or Coworkers
If you’ve tried some or all of these steps and you still have a large problem with noise, it may be time to educate your coworkers or employees. Set up a noise management plant with your team, and make a few office space etiquette rules. Advise your workers not to take their conference calls at their desk, to wear headsets when to attend webinars, and take speakerphone off during calls.
All of these small things will really add up. If you have trouble with people talking over cubicle walls, take steps to reduce how often it happens. Ask people to put their smartphones on silent if you allow them out, and send reminders when the noise levels start to peak again.
Should You Try to Soundproof Your Cubicle?
At the end of the day, it’s up to you. If you choose to try and soundproof your cubicle, the noise pollution levels will drop, but you won’t be able to hear your coworkers if they have questions.
It could encourage people to speak quieter when they know they don’t have to compete with all the other noise in the environment. If you own the business, you may want to seriously consider soundproofing your cubicle space to give your employees fewer distractions. If you don’t own the space, remember to ask your boss permission before attempting anything we listed.