Are you being disturbed by the noise from your co-workers? Are you finding it almost impossible to concentrate in your office cubicle due to background noise?
You aren’t alone, as a study conducted in 2014 found that open-plan offices can actually be bad for your health, with 85% of office workers claiming they found it hard to work due to noise interruptions.
Open-plan offices, and in particular those with cubicles are often the worst environments for noise pollution. I’ve experienced it myself when working for a large business.
But, there are things you can do to improve this, and it is possible to add an element of soundproofing to your office cubicle.
Read on to find out how you can soundproof an office cubicle with these 13 handy tips that provide a few simple tricks to help reduce noise problems.
1. Add Soundproof Foam or Fabric to Cubicle Walls
This tip will require a little bit of investment, but in truth, it won’t break the bank. You might need to get permission from the boss though.
All you do is buy soundproof foam panels and put them up onto as much of the cubicle wall space as you possibly can. What this will do is absorb sound and reduce the echo that bounces back into your office cubicle.
They are the same type of panels that are used in music recording studios. You can buy a pack on Amazon – click here.
It won’t completely eradicate noise completely but could offer a bit of respite and let you concentrate much better on your job.
2. Block Any Gaps, Cracks, and Corners
Once you’ve put the acoustic foam panels up, you should also make sure that there are no gaps left in your office cubicle. Sound is very crafty, and it will exploit any space that it finds to either escape out of or come in through.
What you can try is to fill those gaps with cut-offs from the acoustic foam. Acoustic foam is great for this, as you can push it in really tight and it will expand to fill the gap. Cut strips and push them into the gaps, and also place the strips at the bottom of the cubicle walls if there is space there.
3. Use Hanging Acoustic Panels
If you own the business and office, then you could invest in hanging acoustic panels. These are designed to suppress reverberation in the office and will help to eliminate noise and sound clutter.
They are used as an alternative to office dividers and can be suspended vertically from the roof space. They will reduce many different sound frequencies but can be expensive to buy and install.
4. Fit Acoustic Tiles to the Office Ceiling
Soundproofing office walls and floors is just one part of the process. You should also look to soundproof the ceiling above the office cubicles to stop sound bouncing off from above.
Acoustic tiles will do the trick, as they soak up excess sound and also stop noise coming from any offices that are above your own.
These are really good ones, and tend to have great reviews on Amazon. Other colors are available so shop around to find something to suit your office décor.
5. Raise the Height of Your Cubicle Walls or Fit Tall Dividers
This might not be a viable option as you may have to buy higher cubicle walls or purchase additional wall segments. One route could be to buy tall office dividers and room partitions.
Not sure what I mean? Take a look at these partition walls on Amazon.
But there are some other ways in which you can raise the height to block out noise, mass-loaded curtains are one such way.
6. Fit Mass-Loaded Curtains
For example, you might want to consider mass-loaded curtains. These can be hung down from the ceiling to stop on the cubicle wall, or even over-lap it.
With a thick curtain material, you should be able to absorb or block some of the noise coming in or out of your office cubicle.
7. Place Mass-Loaded Vinyl on the Floor
Mass-loaded vinyl can also be placed on the floor of the office. Putting it in just your cubicle won’t make a huge difference, but if you can get it throughout the entire office, it could help to significantly cancel and absorb noise.
This is what it looks like on Amazon (click here). You can buy it in smaller rolls though if you just want to cover a smaller floor space. I would place it under the existing carpet in your cubicle if possible.
8. Fit Carpet in the Office
Noise will echo back off hard flooring, not to mention how loud it can be when someone in heels walks across it.
Instead have carpet fitted. This will dramatically reduce the noise in the office and could help those working in cubicles get a lot more done.
9. Use Softer Furnishings
A lot of sound disturbance in modern offices is a result of noise bouncing off and echoing back of hard angular work surfaces.
You can help to reduce that type of noise coming into an office cubicle by using softer furnishings where possible. Thing of things such as cushioned furniture, drapes, and even potted plants can help.
10. Buy a White Noise Machine
These are also known as sound conditioners and can be very effective in blocking out noise that’s interrupting your work concentration. Traditionally they are used at night to help people sleep, but they can work equally well in an office cubicle.
What they do is emit a noise that offers a neutral audio landscape which blurs out background conversations in an office. You will still hear noise, but you might find that it’s not as much of a distraction if you use a sound machine.
One of the best ones on the market is the Marpac Sound Dohm. Click here to see the prices on Amazon. I also recently reviewed it. Take a look to see why I love it for helping me block out noise at night.
11. Educate the Employees
You might also want to try a little bit of education with the employees. Noise from their talk is going to be one of the bigger issues when preventing noise in your office cubicles that disturbs other workers.
Talk with the management team to see if it would be possible to send a directive round the business with some rules for office cubicle etiquette.
This can include items such as:
- Use headphones when listening to music
- Not to talk over cubicles, but instead walk over to the person you wish to talk to
- Have all smartphones and cell phones set to mute
- Ask workers not to use speakerphones or take conferences in their cubicles
12. Change Your Phone Systems
One of the more common complaints from office workers who want to soundproof their cubicle, is the noise from co-workers who are on the phone.
It might be worth upgrading your phone system to use ones with headsets and microphones so that they don’t have to use the standard handset, which can result in louder conversations.
13. Strategically Re-Arrange the Office Layout
Perhaps the sales team are the noisy ones? Or it could be the workers in accounts?
Try to identify which groups of office cubicles are the loudest, and then re-arrange those into a block, with the quieter teams or workers placed in a cubicle block further away.
Sometimes just a simple re-arranging of office cubicles can result in lesser noise. Think strategically and it could work really well for noise reduction.
If you do decide to try and soundproof your office cubicle, you should be able to reduce the overall sound pollution in the office. Hopefully fellow employees will hear you less, and you won’t hear them as much either.
A bi-product of that is also that workers won’t tend to raise their voices as much, as they won’t feel that they are in constant battle with other noise sources in the office.
If you are just soundproofing your own cubicle, and aren’t the boss, please make sure to get permission to fit any soundproofing material.