Large open offices can reach about 70 decibels. This is loud enough to be distracting, cause additional stress, interfere with speech, and reduce sleep quality.
People with certain disabilities are especially disrupted by open office noise. These include chronic migraines, anxiety disorders, and other conditions that involve heightened sensory sensitivity.
Although open offices create a collaborative environment, the noise brings disadvantages. Continue reading to learn about office noise reduction strategies.
1. Monitor Noise Level
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to reduce noise pollution is to implement a noise limit. A comfortable, non-distracting noise level is anywhere below 50 decibels. Forty decibels is considered quiet.
You can monitor how loud your office is by downloading an app that checks sound levels.
2. Quiet Spaces
Quiet spaces are rooms dedicated to low noise levels. Employees can come here to get away from all the chatter. They can rest, find their focus, and get some energy back.
If an employee finds the noise in the office too distracting and they can’t focus properly, they should have the option of doing some work in a quiet room.
Quiet rooms not only help employees regain productivity, but they also help fight stress.
The most effective quiet space is soundproof. This can be achieved with acoustic wall panels. The more expensive version is a glass-encased quiet room.
3. White Noise
Try masking the sound with sound. White noise machines deliver ambient sounds that block harsh frequencies.
An open office has a continuous jumble of noise levels that lower and peak. These peak levels compete with lower background frequencies and can easily catch our attention.
White noise machines decrease the difference between background and peak frequencies. The loudest noises don’t seem as loud, which lets you focus on your work.
You can purchase a simple white noise machine that just has one ambient sound and one volume. There are machines that have a variety of calming sounds, such as waves, rain, wind, and static.
Not every noise works for everyone, so be sure to talk with your employees and decide on a sound. Find out more about sound masking.
4. Noise-Canceling Headphones
Another easy noise reduction strategy is to wear noise-canceling headphones. A high-quality pair will mute office noise.
You can replace coworkers’ conversations with music, a podcast, or even white noise. Make sure you don’t turn the volume up too much. Prolonged loud headphone levels will cause hearing damage.
Furthermore, choose something that you know won’t distract you. White noise or instrumental music is your best bet.
Another advantage of noise-canceling headphones is that people are less likely to bother you. The headphones let others know that you’re working and don’t want to be interrupted unless it’s important.
Plants are natural sound absorbents. Larger plants and more plants block more sound.
Plants will also improve the office’s aesthetic and air quality. Green walls, which are entire walls full of plants, have recently become a popular design for offices and commercial places.
6. Noise-Friendly Flooring
Wood and tile flooring are hard surfaces that create sound rather than stop it. A person simply walking by is enough to break your focus.
Opting for noise-friendly flooring will eliminate this issue. Carpet is what probably first comes to mind. While it’s very effective, consider vinyl flooring.
Vinyl flooring is easier to clean if you spill something. There are various designs to pick from as well. This kind of flooring absorbs a lot of sound by itself, but you can block even more noise by adding an underlayer of rubber.
There are different formats of vinyl flooring. Some types have specialized backings that help reduce sound. This includes something similar to acoustic wall panels.
Vinyl flooring comes in tiles, planks, and sheets. An enhanced urethane surface offers the most resistance from wear and stains.
7. Change the Layout
Get strategic and move around the objects in the office. Noisy machines such as printers and copy machines should be placed as far away from employees as possible.
An even better idea is to create a separate room for loud machines. Break rooms should be away from coworkers or be walled in.
Evenly-spaced desks raise noise levels because everyone has to speak louder to hear each other. Clustering desk in groups lowers how loud people need to talk. They are much closer to the people in their group.
8. Noise-Friendly Furniture
Fabric-covered furniture such as couches and chairs absorb sound. You can create a lounge-like area for people to bring their laptops and work.
Furniture with high backs will make the space more separate from the rest of the office. This area should be away from desks.
Consider placing comfortable chairs with small tables around the office. Talkative people may end up in the lounge area. It’s less distracting to sit in a chair by yourself.
9. Acoustic Wall Panels
Acoustic wall panels are designed to absorb sound waves. Regular walls let these waves bounce back, which creates more noise.
Try adding acoustic wall panels to your office’s walls. Covering every wall with these panels will reduce the most noise.
You can choose from different styles of wall panels, so your office will remain aesthetically pleasing.
We all fear the dreaded cubicle, but something like a cubicle will help with noise pollution. Adding partitions around employees’ desks will reduce the noise level around your workspace. You can increase noise blockage by covering the partitions with acoustic wall panels.
Wall partitions also give office workers more privacy. They are better able to focus because the rest of the office isn’t in their view.
Partitions can be lower than the average cubicle and still block noise. People don’t have to be completely cut off from each other.
Cubicles aren’t known for their great designs, but there are modern partition designs to choose from.
Use These Office Noise Reduction Tips
There are many ways to create a comfortable and quiet open office environment. Something as simple as headphones or a white noise machine will do the trick.
Employees no longer have to deal with the negative effects of loud open offices. Use these office noise reduction strategies to help everyone stay focused and healthy.
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