Office Soundproofing: Everything You Need To Know
Office soundproofing is one of the most important ways to create a comfortable and productive working environment. Acoustic panels installation is a crucial element to ensure that employees can remain focused on their work at all times.
Excessive office noise can be incredibly annoying, and more importantly, it can be stressful and detrimental to the productivity of your staff. These noises can come from various sources, such as the air conditioner, mobile ringtones, nearby renovations, and the simple sounds of other people talking.
These everyday noises are largely beyond anybody’s control—they are the natural result of every working environment. But unfortunately, studies reveal that 69% of employees worldwide lose their concentration and become less productive due to noise pollution in the office.
Lost productivity means wasted time and resources that cost businesses millions of dollars each year. Because sound can cause so much disruption, businesses look to office noise reduction technologies to get their workplaces back on track.
According to some psychologists, too much background noise in the office reduces workers’ ability to recall information and carry out math exercises. Noise can also lead employees to make more mistakes, leading to more time being wasted on correcting preventable errors.
In addition, office noise can prove more damaging to people who prefer to multitask. Studies have shown that when their concentration is interrupted by an instant message or a ringing phone, it will be hard for multitaskers to return to the task at hand before they were interrupted.
At the end of this article, we aim to help you:
- Learn how to soundproof your office space to minimize distractions with acoustic panel installation
- Find the best soundproofing solution for your office
- Discover the most effective soundproofing techniques
How Does Noise Pollution Affect Your Office?
Noise is an everyday thing in every office, and there is little to be done about background noises such as ringing phones and employees talking to each other.
Here are some of the potential problems that can be caused by noise pollution in the workplace:
1. Wasted Time. Excessive talking or distracting noise can affect concentration regardless of the task. Even five minutes of interruption each day will add up to significant numbers across all employees each year.
2. Uncomfortable Workspaces. If you have visitors such as applicants or clients, they would not feel comfortable with all the noise in your office.
3. Limited Privacy. Having private and sensitive work-related conversations can be impossible without a soundproof office.
4. Unprofessional Background Noise. Background noise can be very distracting and off-putting when heard during client calls. It could distort the message you want to convey to the person on the other line and may cause confusion in your conversation.
Why Is Office Soundproofing Important?
One study reveals that a noisy office space can inhibit productivity by 66%. Another showed that 3 in 10 employees regularly lose their concentration due to ambient office sounds. Prolonged exposure to 65 decibels can result in an elevated heart rate or heart attack.
Too much office noise is also off-putting for potential clients or office visitors. How would an applicant or potential client feel when greeted by noises that distract from work? Soundproofing can contribute to creating a good first impression of your office.
While soundproofing will not eliminate all the background noise at work, it will significantly improve productivity and reduce noise-related health risks.
What Are Some Common Soundproofing Techniques?
Your office noise problems can be solved with the right soundproofing techniques.
Sound absorption involves installing sound-absorbent materials and acoustic panels. With acoustic panel installation, sound energy is transformed into heat while the rest is transmitted through the absorbing material.
Sound absorption is ideal for conference rooms, dining areas, and large spaces that echo. The objective is to take in as much sound energy as possible to keep it from bouncing off the walls.
Acoustic panels can be easily mounted on your office wall. Their shape or size can be customized according to your preference; you can even add your company logo to add to the room’s aesthetics.
With sound masking, excess noise is covered by adding sound. The sound floor is raised so that other people won’t be able to hear you.
Sound masking an open office involves installing small speakers along simple grid patterns throughout the room. These speakers emit ambient noise designed to mimic the frequency of human speech, which makes it a cost-efficient way to reduce distractions.
Soundproofing Office Walls
Soundproofing walls have sound-absorbing materials that keep the background noise at bay. While soundproof paint may be a great idea, it might not be enough to minimize daily office noise. It might help to add a layer of drywall.
The downside of soundproofing walls is that they can be expensive, and installation requires a lot of time and resources. For example, most office spaces are built and segmented using thin, non-demising walls topped by drop ceilings. These are not very effective at limiting noise pollution. More information here on soundproofing apartment walls.
The best way to get around this structural limitation is to add multiple insulation layers on all the walls and ceilings with acoustic panel installation. These can significantly reduce office noise and improve employee productivity.
Before installing soundproofing material on your walls, check for cracks and holes through which sound can escape. Plug them to make sure that your soundproofing solutions will work.
What Are Some Other Ways to Soundproof Your Office?
Some ambient sounds can be pleasant to the ears, but many can just be distracting and annoying. It is vital to keep out any sound that disrupts your employees’ workdays.
Aside from the techniques mentioned above, here are some cost-efficient ways to do office soundproofing:
1. Use an Area Rug
Thick rugs are great for decoration and to create a sense of comfort in your office. As a bonus, they can also help soundproof it against distracting noise. Thick materials such as rugs, plush furniture, wall art, or acoustic panels can dissipate ambient sounds like ringing phones and conversations between colleagues.
Install acoustic boards on the floor and cover them with a lush carpet to block off noise coming from below. This will significantly reduce noise pollution in your workspace.
2. Install Solid Core Doors
Solid core doors are better sound absorbers than hollow ones, and they will help limit sound crossing from one room to another.
You can also add vinyl weather stripping, bottom sweep, and threshold seals to your doors.
3. Check for Air Leaks Around the Room
Sound travels quickly by air, and you can fix the problem by applying caulk and weatherstripping your walls. Track down air leaks and plug them to further limit the noise pollution in your office.
4. Add Window Inserts
You can use window inserts as a cost-efficient way to reduce noise from outdoors. Instead of changing your windows or opening your wall for insulation, window inserts can be an additional layer between your office and outdoor noise. They can block up to 70% of outside sounds once installed.
5. Dampen Vibrating Equipment
Sound can also be transmitted through vibrations, so any piece of equipment or device that vibrates can lead to noise all around the room. To minimize this, use a thick piece of dense foam rubber such as a floor mat to dampen the noise.
6. Add Resilient Channels
With this method of sound proofing, you must first strip the room down to its bare studs. Once done, you can install resilient channels—Z-shaped metal strips that go between wall studs and drywall. They create a decoupled wall, which will effectively stop sound waves from passing through. This technique is most commonly used for a soundproof apartment ceiling.
7. Seal Holes in the Walls
Check the walls and ceilings of your office and look for any perforations. If there are, fill them with sound-absorbing materials such as fiberglass batt insulations. These soundproofing materials are pre-cut to fit most standard-sized walls, so installation will be a breeze.
Tips For Soundproofing
Office space noise reduction is a multi-step process that will take time and resources to execute well. These tips will help you achieve a significantly less noisy space as quickly as possible:
1. Evaluate Your Office Layout
Whether you’re renovating your current space for or moving into an entirely new one, consider the overall layout and design. Open office concepts, glass walls, and limited barriers allow sound to travel freely. Determine which areas are the noisiest and choose the best acoustic solutions to limit sound across your entire office space.
Consider all appliances and systems that make noise in your office. Televisions and conference rooms are great disruptors that should be kept away from the most productive areas in your office. If each office cubicle requires a telephone, set the ringtone to low.
These simple solutions can drastically reduce noise pollution in your office.
2. Consider NRC
Noise Reduction Ratio (NRC) measures the amount of sound energy absorbed when it reaches a surface. NRC is rated from 0 to 1, so a rating of 0.90 means that 90% of the sound in a given space is absorbed and 10% is reflected.
The higher the NRC, the better the sound absorption properties of the material. The most effective materials can absorb between 50% and 90% of sound in the room.
3. Minimize Distractions
When an office is quiet, something as simple as the ticking of a clock can be incredibly distracting. Try to limit these elements as much as you can. Sound dampening solutions should also work when few people are in the office.
4. Ask Others to Respect Your Time
When working in a home office, make sure everyone in your household knows your work hours. Some people have kids, try giving them activities or chores to do while you are busy to maintain a productive schedule.
If you share your workspace with other people in your home, set ground rules to ensure that you can all be productive during your work hours.
5. Play Music
Adding sound to a room may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes controlled sound can help combat outside noise you can’t control. Playing music, white noise, nature sounds, or other background noises can make it easier to drown out distracting sounds.
Keep your music at a moderate volume, between 70 and 90 decibels (dB), for the best and most productive background sound.
6. Use Noise Canceling Headphones
Noise-canceling headphones can be used as portable noise-isolating devices when working in areas where soundproofing is not possible. You can just wear them to block out sound or play music while you work.
7. Set up a Workspace
If you already have a home office, you don’t need to worry about a dedicated workspace. But if you don’t have one yet, it’s best to set up a specific area wherein acoustic panel installation will work.
If you can, work at your desk and not anywhere else, like your bed. This will help you feel more focused and like you are in an office. Dining or kitchen tables can be comfortable, but working in common areas in your house can be distracting. Try to set up your desk in a bedroom or another room where the door can be closed.
What Type of Office Noise Reduction Solution Is Right for You?
When exploring noise reduction options, there are many factors to consider, such as your overall goals and needs, budget, and available materials.
Here are some questions to think about:
- Do you have room for sound-absorbing panels?
- What types of walls and obstacles do you have in your office?
- Do you want to reduce noise pollution in a single room or the entire office?
Sound absorption is ideal if you want to minimize the noise in conference rooms, offices, and other large areas that generate echoes. Sound masking works best with an open floor plan.
If you’re unsure which solution is best for you, we’d be happy to help. HUSH NYC provides the highest quality noise reduction services available to give you the peace and quiet that you deserve.