If you have ever struggled to focus on a task or get your head in the right mindset because of a persistent, annoying sound, or loud conversation happening around you, you understand the importance of soundproofing. In an office environment, getting work done quickly and accurately is key to a successful workday, but when distractions prevent focus, productivity goes out the window.
In this simple guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to set up your office furniture to have a soundproof office. You will discover some simple tips to help you soundproof an existing space.
Why Soundproof Your Office?
Sound can easily become a distraction in virtually any working environment, and even administrative offices are no exception. Ambient noise, quiet conversations between employees, machines turning on and off, phones ringing, and any noise leaking in from other residents of the building can combine to be quite the distracting din, reducing productivity and potentially creating a stressful environment for staff.
Feeling unable to concentrate due to extended noise pollution can reduce workplace morale, leaving even the most experienced and professional members of your team struggling to make it through their daily tasks.
Adding soundproofing can help reduce outside distractions, improving team productivity and helping to create a more comfortable working environment. In addition to protecting your office space from unwanted noise pollution, soundproofing can also help to reduce the amount of noise leaked from your offices into other parts of the building, protecting your privacy and helping to reduce noise pollution from your team.
So, why soundproof your office? Increased productivity and comfort for everyone involved!
Assessing Soundproofing Needs
No two soundproofing jobs are quite alike, just as no two office spaces are quite alike. Depending on the size of your space, the amount of noise pollution you experience, and the nature of the work being done in your office, you’ll be able to tailor a custom solution that fits your specific needs.
At OnePointe Solutions, we specialize in helping to create simple, effective design solutions, and can help you to configure your office space for optimal soundproofing, comfort, safety, and efficiency.
Noise Reduction vs. Noise Absorption
When soundproofing an office, there are two types of soundproofing to consider:
Noise reduction and noise absorption. Noise reduction options help to reduce the amount of sound pollution that enters the office, creating a calmer, more harmonious space by dampening ambient noise.
Noise absorption options help to reduce the amount of noise your office produces, and can absorb some of the sound to keep your conversations private and non-intrusive to the rest of the facility.
Tips for Preparing an Office to be Soundproofed
While the most effective way to soundproof an office space is to build it with soundproof materials from the ground up, it is entirely possible to soundproof an existing office space that was not originally designed for noise reduction or absorption. Preparing such an office space for the application of soundproofing materials is fairly straightforward, and begins with cutting off any possible sound leaks.
Walls are one of the most effective soundproofing devices, but if there are holes, cracks, or gaps in your walls, their ability to reduce and absorb sound will be compromised. Step one when preparing an office for soundproofing is to locate and fill any holes and gaps with caulk, or sound absorbent materials. Fill everything including gaps around devices, electrical boxes, door frames, etc.
Methods of Soundproofing
There are a virtually infinite number of soundproofing options available to you, which can be a bit overwhelming if you are new to the process. A wide range of soundproofing materials and accessories exist, but that doesn’t mean your soundproofing solution needs to be overly complicated or expensive.
Here, we’ve listed some of the best and most common methods of soundproofing, and are sharing a few pieces of information about each option so you can choose the ones that are right for you.
Soundproof Construction Materials
One of the most efficient ways to soundproof an office space is to build it with soundproof construction materials from the very beginning. If you are lucky enough to be involved in the building of your own office, consider suggesting the use of noise reducing materials like acoustic board overlay in floors and walls, additional ceiling insulation, and thick fiberglass insulation.
Most hard, shiny surface materials create an echo effect, and do little in the way of sound dampening. By building floors, ceilings, and walls deliberately to reduce sound, you can reduce the amount of additional soundproofing you’ll need to add later down the line.
If you are not able to add soundproofing features during the construction process, or come upon your office space years after the building has been completed, a great alternative to acoustic board floors and ceilings are acoustic panels. Acoustic panels, like acoustic boards, reduce and absorb noise to both keep noise out and keep noise in.
Acoustic panels can be applied to walls or ceilings to reduce reverb and echos. Panels can be small, large, colorful, neutral, hard, soft, etc. – depending on the aesthetic you prefer.
In most cases, covering approximately 25-30% of the walls and ceilings should provide adequate sound dampening.
Cubicles and desk dividers are a great way to reduce visual distractions for staff, and can help to create the illusion of privacy in a large, open concept space. In addition to physical privacy, desk dividers and cubicles can also dampen and reduce ambient noise and sound pollution that could create distractions for your staff.
Made from tightly woven fibers and thick, acoustic boards, desk dividers provide the same sound dampening and absorbing properties as ceiling and wall acoustic board.
In industrial or corporate facilities, flooring is typically made from linoleum, concrete, or some other hard, shiny material. Sounds bounce and reverberate off of hard surfaces, which do little to reduce noise and only bounce them from one place to the next.
Because of this, many offices choose to install carpeting or strategically place rugs throughout their space in order to reduce ambient noise and prevent sound from traveling through the facility. Carpeting absorbs noise, stopping it at the source and helping to create a quieter, more peaceful environment.
While closing a door may create the illusion of privacy, many doors are poorly designed and allow tons of sound to escape and enter. Most doors are hollow, lightweight, and create large gaps at floor level and between the frame of the door itself.
These types of doors do little in the way of soundproofing, and should be replaced with solid core, heavier doors that are fitted specifically for their frames. Eliminating gaps in doorways and choosing heavier, more soundproof materials will help to significantly reduce disturbances.
Check doors going in and out of the facility as well as internal doors.
Like doors, windows are a common sound-leak culprit. Thin, single pane windows in particular provide very little soundproofing, and can allow tons of ambient and outdoor noise to leak into the workplace.
In some cases, windows that connect your office space to the rest of the facility (i.e. laboratory or manufacturing spaces) could be letting sound from other departments in, or could be letting sound from your office out. Adding extra panes of glass, utilizing heavy window treatments, and sealing gaps/leaks around windows will significantly reduce noise pollution.