Noise is one of the most common complaints raised by employees working in corporate office settings — especially in open-concept offices 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.
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
Unforgiving flooring surfaces like concrete, porcelain and ceramic can wreak havoc within a work setting due to the massive amount of noise pollution they create. While carpet is an okay flooring solution for noise reduction, engineered hardwood and LVT flooring are versatile alternatives thanks to their ease of maintenance and variety of design options. LVT 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) value.
For an all-in-one solution, 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 LVT option has a specialized backing that offers both traction to stay in place after installation and sound reduction qualities.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Compared to that of carpet, porcelain, ceramic and concrete, Parterre’s dryback, loose lay, rigid core click LVT and engineered hardwood flooring options provide an aesthetically pleasing flooring solution; contact us today to learn more about the sound reduction qualities of our commercial flooring products.