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Smart, Cost-Effective Sound Control for the Office

By wizu | 10 April 2022

Updated 15/12/23

It’s a fact that noise can be a problem at the office, especially in a workplace with an open-plan layout. While sound seems to be innocuous, it can cause problems for employees. When there’s too much noise, employees may be distracted and find it challenging to focus. These issues can lead to a lack of productivity and even low morale.

So, what can you do to improve the sound in the office without spending a large part of the company budget?

We’ve put together some cost-effective tips on how to take care of noise issues in your office. The focus is on cost-effective ways to solve sound problems without sacrificing a huge chunk of your business budget.

Ways to Reduce Noise in the Office

It’s no surprise that when you have a number of employees and machines working in the same space, there’s bound to be noise. It can’t be helped. From the whirring of printers to the drone of phone conversations and more the office is filled with sound.

Sound can be a huge problem; however, there are some solutions you can try that don’t break the bank.

1. Created Dedicated Quiet Space

Having a dedicated quiet area in the office can help employees who are distracted by sound. While some employees may resort to empty meeting rooms, the spaces are not ideally set up as a great place to work for hours at a time. For this reason, many businesses are creating quiet rooms.

A quiet room is a space within the office that is somehow marked off as a quiet zone. A business may choose to use glass partitions to create a quiet zone, with the addition of soundproofing to ensure the space is truly quiet.

Another option is the privacy pod. These are similar to a quiet zone, except they’re set up for individual employees. Privacy pods are like a small mini-office. Each pod has its own lighting, ventilation (and possibly climate controls), and the connectivity needed for work. These spaces are also soundproofed.

2. Controlling Background Noise

Another way to reduce noise in the office is to control background noise. But how can you control background noise effectively? It’s done through the use of ambient noise, which is also called white noise.

Ambient noise is played in the background throughout the office. It’s set at a consistent level and it works to mask unwanted noise (people talking with one another, office machines, and more). Some offices use ambient sounds such as rainfall or waves crashing on the shore.

The ambient sound works to distract employees from unwanted background noise. And studies show this is quite effective. Background sounds can help make the sounds in the office unintelligible and easier to ignore.

3. Noise-Reducing Flooring

Another problem in the office could be the flooring. Sound reflects (or bounces) off shiny, hard surfaces. Does your office have this type of flooring? If so, then office sound is broadcast throughout the office.

Sound-reducing flooring is a cost-effective solution in an office. Carpet can absorb sound; however, there’s flooring that’s been specifically designed to reduce sounds in the workplace. For instance, LVT (Luxury vinyl tile) or engineered hardwood are great choices for reducing sound. When LVT is combined with a rubber underlayment, it offers even more sound-reducing capabilities.

4. Use a Strategic Office Layout

Another way to control problematic noise in the office is with a strategic office layout. For one thing, try to keep office machines away from employees. If there’s a way to put office equipment in a different room or a closet, it can significantly reduce sound.

In addition, keep collaboration teams separate from employees who need quiet to perform their tasks effectively. This can reduce sound, making it easier for those employees to stay productive. What’s more, collaboration teams can be freer with their discussions, at least regarding noise.

5. Use Furniture to Absorb Sound

Have you ever heard of acoustic furniture? If not, that’s OK! This is a relatively new concept in solving office sound problems. Acoustic is designed with specific fabrics and size specifications that work to reduce noise and increase privacy. The furniture is also made to increase attention and focus.

For example, acoustic chairs are usually made for a casual business or used in an employee breakout area. The seating is made to be flexible and can be moved around the office.

Other office furniture can also reduce sound. For instance, lockers, desk screens, cabinets, and more can be finished in different materials that work to absorb sound. There are acoustic cabinets specifically designed of sound-absorbing material on the front and back to reduce noise levels.

And we can’t leave out partitions. When partitions are made of sound-absorbing materials, they can also work to reduce noise in the workplace.

6. Use Plants to Control Noise

Not many people realise that plants can do much more than just look pretty and improve indoor air quality. Plants can also work to absorb sound and control noise in an office!

Plants with plenty of foliage and vegetation are best at blocking out sound. Evergreen shrubs, such as junipers and hollies, also are great for absorbing sound.

  • Deflection: not only do plants work to absorb sound, but they can also help to deflect and refract sound. When it comes to deflection, plant vegetation works to break up sound waves into other forms of others.
  • Absorption: plants also absorb sound through their leaves, branches, and wood. Wood is a wonderful sound-absorber as it absorbs ambient noise.
  • Refraction: changes the way echoes bounce around the room. Plants do this by refracting the noise and getting rid of echoes.

It’s best to use a variety of plants, with some that are taller and others shorter. This works to better reduce the sound in a workplace. Not only do the plants reduce sound, but so do their pots of dirt!

So, when you choose to place plants in the office, you’re getting double value and sound reduction for your money.

Summing It Up

These are only a few of the cost-effective methods you can use to control sound in the office. It’s best to use more than one approach. Try to use methods that are complementary, such as sound-absorbing furniture and flooring combined with plants.

No matter the tips you try, we’re sure the noise levels in your office will go down quite a bit! And you’ll see productivity and morale increase at the same time.

Looking for office space? Be sure to get in touch with us to see what we have to offer!


How do I determine if my office needs sound control measures?

Assess your office environment for noise disruptions. If conversations or external noises frequently distract employees, or if privacy is compromised due to sound transmission, it’s time to consider sound control measures. Conduct surveys or seek employee feedback to identify specific noise issues.

What are some cost-effective soundproofing materials?

Materials like acoustic panels, foam, curtains, and rugs are cost-effective options. Additionally, cork boards, bookshelves filled with books, or even thick drapes can serve as soundproofing elements without a significant investment.

Can sound control solutions enhance employee productivity?

Absolutely. A well-controlled sound environment reduces distractions, improves concentration, and minimises stress levels among employees. Enhanced focus leads to increased productivity and better overall job satisfaction.

Are there DIY sound control methods for small offices?

Yes, several DIY methods can help. These include rearranging furniture for better sound absorption, using rugs or carpets to minimise sound reflection, adding bookshelves filled with books, and even utilising egg cartons or acoustic foam on walls for minimal soundproofing.

What role does furniture play in sound absorption?

Furniture can absorb and scatter sound waves, reducing noise levels. Upholstered furniture, especially with dense fabric or foam, absorbs sound effectively. Bookshelves, cabinets, and other solid furniture also contribute to sound control.

How can I balance openness with sound privacy in an office layout?

Striking a balance involves a thoughtful layout design. Consider utilising soundproof partitions, movable screens, or furniture strategically placed to create semi-private zones while maintaining an open atmosphere. Additionally, incorporating soft materials or plants can help buffer sound without compromising the overall openness.

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