Top 10 Ways to Reduce Noise in Your Open Office

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Project: MakeOffices | Design: Gensler | Photo: Halkin Mason Photography

Noise is one of the most common complaints raised by employees working in corporate office settings—especially in open office concepts where employees are situated together in a large space with little to no separation. If you have ever worked in a similar environment, then you know how distracting the constant activity of a busy workplace can be.

But a noisy workplace can be more than just an annoyance. Multiple studies have shown that too much noise in the office can seriously reduce productivity and increase stress, not to mention lower job satisfaction and employee morale.

Research shows 49% of workers report not being able to concentrate easily, while the average person loses 86 minutes per day due to distractions.

– Steelcase, 2014

A study from the University of Sydney in 2013 found that lack of sound privacy was the biggest frustration for employees.

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If you or your employees are suffering from any of these symptoms, it might be time to consider one or more of the following solutions for how to reduce noise in your open office.

1. Noise Friendly Flooring

Hard flooring surfaces like natural wood, porcelain and ceramic can wreak havoc within a work setting due to the massive amount of noise pollution they create. While carpet is an ideal flooring solution for noise reduction, vinyl flooring is a versatile alternative thanks to its ease of maintenance and variety of design options. Vinyl flooring by itself boasts sound absorption qualities, however adding the right-engineered amount of rubber underlayment provides additional recommended IIC (Impact Insulation Class–a sound-testing method used in North America) values.

Not only that, but aside from the standard dryback LVT flooring, there are other vinyl flooring formats with sound reduction qualities. Parterre’s 5mm Rigid Core Click has an attached 1mm IXPE acoustic backing that is cushioned for sound absorption, and Parterre’s 5mm Loose Lay vinyl option has a specialize backing offering both traction to stay in place after installation and sound reduction qualities. Both options are easy to install and beneficial in minimizing noise.

2. Dedicated Quiet Space

Once in a while it’s good to get away to a quiet place within your workspace. While empty conference rooms make for a great makeshift work sanctuaries, some companies incorporate dedicated quiet spaces within their office layout. Quiet rooms have grown so popular in fact that a furniture maker in Michigan designed a glass-encased, 100% soundproof office cube.

 

3. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

If redesigning the office is not a feasible option, perhaps the easiest way to reduce noise in your open office space is by purchasing a pair of high quality noise cancelling headphones. Some quality brands even boast 100% noise reduction using microphones and special processing to create an opposite sound wave than the one headed for your eardrum.


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4. Control Background Noise

A proven noise reduction strategy in open office space involves fighting noise with noise. Seems counterintuitive, but ambient noise (white noise) played in the background at a consistent level is proven to help mask unwanted sounds. Some proven forms of background noise include rainfall and waves crashing on the beach.

5. Sound Friendly Furniture

Couches, lounge chairs, wall partitions, and filing cabinets can all have an impact on the acoustics of an open office space—especially high backed couches or enclosed booths that essentially separate a person from the rest of the room.


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6. Plants, Plants and More Plants

Well-placed plants have proven effective in reducing noise levels in an open office setting. The larger the plant means the bigger the impact, not to mention the obvious aesthetic benefits and overall impact on air quality. Not only ideal for sound reduction, live walls and green walls (as shown below) are also increasing in popularity in commercial design.

7. Get Innovative with Your Office Layout

Another way to reduce noise in an office space is to get creative with the overall office layout. For instance, desks that are situated close together in clusters help compartmentalize noise, especially when groups are separated by some of the sound-friendly furniture mentioned earlier. Even simpler, perhaps some of the noisier office equipment (i.e. copy machine, printer, fax machine) can be situated in a separate room away from employees.

8. Acoustic Wall Panels

Sound absorbing wall panels are incredibly effective in combatting noise pollution in the workplace, though not all wall panels are aesthetically pleasing. Luckily there are some more modern design options available today.


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9. Improve Insulation

It is time consuming and costly, but installing sound insulation material is an effective option for reducing noise in the office space. This noise reduction strategy makes the most sense during an office renovation or tenant fit up.

10. Cubicles/Wall Partitions

A tried and true solution, wall partitions and cubicles have helped companies of all sizes separate employees and reduce overall office noise. Even low-level wall partitions that don’t completely close someone off have proven effective. And while style may be lacking in some cubicle choices, there are in fact more contemporary cubicle design options on the market.

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While it is rare to have a completely quiet office space and open office space environments thrive off of a certain level of collaboration between employees, the key is to find the perfect balance of noise reducing solutions that make sense for your work environment.

Parterre Flooring Systems specializes in providing its customers with the best quality luxury vinyl flooring available today—both in terms of design and noise reduction qualities. Compared to that of carpet, natural wood, porcelain, ceramic and concrete, Parterre’s dryback, loose lay and rigid core click options provide an aesthetically pleasing flooring solution; contact us today to learn more about the sound reduction qualities of our vinyl flooring products.

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