Top 10 Ways to Reduce Noise in Your Open Office

reduce office noise

Project: SevOne | Design: Mitchell Associates | © 2016 Don Pearse Photographers, Inc.

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’ve 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 a distraction. 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.

reduce office noise

If you or your employees are suffering from any one 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. In comparison to other hard flooring surfaces, vinyl flooring has better 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.

2. Dedicated Quiet Space

Every once in a while it’s good to get away to a quiet place within your work space. While empty conference rooms make for a great makeshift work sanctuary, some companies design dedicated quiet space within their office layout. Quiet rooms have grown so popular in fact that a furniture maker in Michigan is cashing in on a glass-encased, 100% soundproof office cube.

reduce office noise

3. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Perhaps the most obvious way to reduce noise in your open office space is by purchasing a pair of high quality noise cancelling headphones. Some quality brands 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 and 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 the bigger the impact, not to mention the obvious aesthetic benefits and overall impact on air quality.

7. Get Innovative with Your Office Layout

One 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, but 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’s 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.

There will never be such a thing as a completely quiet office space. It’s just not possible. Open office space environments thrive off of a certain level of collaboration between employees, so 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. By itself or in conjunction with a special rubber underlayment, Parterre’s vinyl tile and plank provides an aesthetically pleasing flooring solution compared to that of carpet, natural wood, porcelain, ceramic and concrete. Contact us today to learn more about the sound reduction qualities of our vinyl flooring products.

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