While an open office plan encourages collaboration and relationship building and minimizes construction costs, it can be noisy.
Similar challenges affect those who work from home. Constant distractions from unwanted sounds of a dog barking, children playing, and neighbors arguing can interfere with your concentration on the task.
Fortunately, you can take several steps to reduce the noise regardless of your office space layout. How can you soundproof an office space? What are the best soundproofing materials for your office?
Read on to find out the answers and more. You might also be interested in reading: 12 Amazing Soundproofing Ideas For Your Home (Try them now!)
Why Should You Soundproof Your Office Space?
Open office space can be too loud to concentrate, thus affecting productivity negatively. One study showed that noisy office space could reduce productivity by 60%.
Besides interfering with productivity, noise can affect employees’ satisfaction and health. For instance, a study in Germany found that exposing someone to 65 decibels of noise for a long period can increase one’s heart rate and risk of a heart attack.
Soundproofing your office may not eliminate the noise entirely, but it can reduce it to healthier levels. Employees can hear themselves think and consult without shouting at each other.
A quiet office space is also ideal for attracting clients and talents. Clients who find your office space noisy and chaotic are less likely to trust you with their money. Top talents are also attracted to an office environment with professional hum.
How To Soundproof An Office
Sound waves or noise will likely enter your dedicated workspace through the air or surfaces. You will be affected by airborne or impact noise. So, as you soundproof your office space, you will target both noise sources.
1- Install Acoustic Panels
Acoustic panels are pieces of fabric or foam that you can install on the ceiling and walls of your office space. They are good at absorbing airborne sounds from people talking or traffic from the nearby road.
If your office space is in the basement or in an apartment where others operate above you, you want to block out all the noise that could come from the ceiling.
You can also install acoustic panels on your office walls, absorbing sound waves from outside. It also protects noise from the office from getting out, which means you can have a confidential meeting without worrying that others will hear what you say.
2- Install Drywalls
Drywalls can also be installed on the office walls and ceilings. Drywalls, especially 5/8-inch drywall, can stop impact noise from passing through the ceiling and walls. These drywalls are denser than the ½-inch panels and will do a better job.
Before fixing the drywalls, insert fiberglass or Rockwool in the spaces between the studs. Fiberglass help with sound absorption like acoustic panels.
But you can make the system even better by including resilient channels. Resilient channels separate dry walls from the original walls or fiberglass, thus creating air space that dampens sound more. Resilient channels also have numerous holes that help to cancel out noise.
3- Focus On The Door Space
Sound passes from various parts of the door, and you can seal these spaces to reduce sound entering through it.
Consider some actions you can take to soundproof your door.
4- Switch Solid Door
Most office doors are hollow, allowing impact noise to pass through easily.
You block this noise from passing through by replacing the hollow-core office door with a solid wood door or a soundproof door insulated with sound-absorbing materials.
A solid door will help block noise from outside or other rooms.
5- Install a Door Sweep
Besides swapping a hollow-core door with a solid door, you can further reduce the noise by sealing the space between the bottom of the door and the threshold with a door sweep. Door sweeps can stop sounds that would pass under the door.
Automatic door sweeps are even better because they rise when you open and drop down when you close the door to help seal spaces below the door.
You can also include weatherstripping on the sides of the door and at the top to seal spaces.
6- Seal Gaps And Holes
Examine your office space for any holes or gaps between the walls or around electric sockets and seal them.
You can use green glue sealant to seal these holes and gaps that could let airborne noise in.
7- Use Rags And Carpets
What covers your office floor? Since most commercial office floors are tiled, they transmit sound waves. And if your office space is in between floors in an apartment, you need to absorb noise coming downstairs.
You can lay mass-loaded vinyl on the floor and follow it with rugs and carpet. The mass-loaded vinyl is made of a heavy rubber-like material that aids with blocking sound from below.
The rugs and carpets are soft materials that absorb sound from offices or rooms underneath yours. You can hold zoom calls with important stakeholders without interruptions or unpleasant noise from the floor.
8- Use Soundproofing Curtains
Instead of light, fancy curtains, you can cover your windows with soundproofing curtains to absorb the reflective noise that hits the windows and hard surfaces in the house.
Soundproofing curtains for windows are often heavy, with some made of thermal insulation materials to protect you from extreme temperatures. They absorb sound waves, thus reducing the general noise created in the office.
And since they come in different colors, you can choose the one that matches your office decor.
9- Add Office Plants And Couches
You can also absorb noise in the office through upholstered office couches. Like carpets and rugs, they help with sound absorption.
You have probably noticed that an empty office produces echoes and amplifies sound. But when you fill the room with soft seats and plants, the echo disappears.
Why? Soft seats and office plants absorb noise reflections. They interrupt the soundwaves. While hard surfaces bounce back the sound, soft furniture and large plants absorb it, thus dampening the noise. You provide your guest and employees with soft sitting space and reduce noise within the office.
10- Use Suspended Ceiling Tiles
You could use suspended acoustic ceiling tiles if you have rented office space with an already-built ceiling.
The acoustic tiles can absorb sound from the upper floors, and the air spaces between the suspended ceiling and the existing one help dampen the noise further.
11- Paint Your Walls And Ceilings With Acoustic Paints
Acoustic paints are relatively new technology but can help reduce noise in your office room.
How do they work? They differ from regular paint in thickness and structure. They are made with specific soundproofing fillers (ceramic microspheres) that increase their noise-absorbing properties.
Ceramic microspheres provide increased uniformity when applied, closing out any gaps in the wall. This provides better insulation in the noise and echo reduction.
Since soundproofing paints are heavy-bodied and have microspheres that add to their sound-absorbing results. It reduces the noise that comes into the office room by absorbing part of it and minimizes the noise escaping the room.
They can reduce 30% of sounds with normal or mid-range frequencies.
Generally, one coat of acoustic paint reduces between 2 to 4 decibels of sound transmission through the walls and ceiling. And since the standard application is 3 coats of paint, its sound reduction can range from 6 to 12 decibels.
12- Add Partitions
You can also separate office spaces into smaller partitions. This means that few people will exist in one space, thus reducing the amount of noise created. You could achieve even better results by using ⅝-inch drywalls to partition your office space.
Your employees will have the opportunity to interact but in small numbers. The drywalls will block the noise from cubical to the other, thus contributing to the overall office quietness.
What to read next:
- Can You Soundproof Your Walls? (With helpful tips!)
- How Much Does It Cost to Soundproof a Garage?
- What is The Cheapest Way to Soundproof a Room?
You have numerous soundproofing techniques to apply in your office. However, your soundproofing method depends on how much control you have over the space.
If you have rented the space, you will need to seek the owner’s approval before you install major soundproofing strategies. The building owners may allow major construction, like installing drywalls or suspending acoustic tiles.
Others may also require you to consult them before applying acoustic paints on the wall. However, the situation will be different if you own the building or want to soundproof your home office space.
Other factors that determine the type of soundproofing method you use for your office include:
- The size of your office space
- Your budget
- The noise level in your office.
Once you have figured out what works for your office, you can start working on it.