11 Tips for How to Deal with Noise in an Open Plan Office
by Wade Larkin on
How to Deal with Noise in an Open Plan Office
Open plan offices are said to improve communication, collaboration and creativity. And yet, an open plan commercial space can also be frustrating and overwhelming to work in, due to the significant surrounding noise that follows communal spaces. A lack of sound privacy can inhibit concentration and productivity, reduce job satisfaction, and in turn place mental strain on your team, diminishing the efficiency of your workplace. While a complete rework of your space seems far fetched, we have a number of simple solutions to help you deal with noise in an open plan office.
1. Noise Cancelling Headphones
The most basic and common solution for reducing noise in open plan offices is businesses to invest in noise-cancelling headphones for their employees. Easy to source and often quite affordable, these headphones work to significantly reduce ambient noise and the distractions that come with open plan spaces. With the option to add white noise or calming playlists, these headphones can be a great way to ‘zone out’ and place focus on the work needed without the interruptions of surrounding staff.
2. Create Secondary Workspaces
Another great way to combat noise in office environments is to find a secondary space that you can successfully work from. This could be a spare meeting room, a vacant nook or a quiet outdoor area that allows you to quickly escape whenever needed. Additionally, implementing a reservation system for these secondary spaces allows your staff to plan their workload around their ‘quiet time’ booking and utilising their time as best as possible.
As some offices are limited on space, another option for private working is to incorporate acoustic pods. Compact in size and shape, these sound-proof booths take up minimal room and can be positioned anywhere in your office. Ranging from small pods for individual use or larger sizes for group collaboration, these acoustic pods are fast becoming the future in combatting distractions and noise in open-plan offices.
Explore our range of Acoustic Pods & Booths.
3. Acoustic Accessories
An obvious solution to handling excess noise within your office is to introduce acoustics. As open plan spaces become more popular, sound-absorbing office accessories follow. Light shades built with acoustic materials are a great option for adding both exceptional sound-absorption and aesthetic design. Go a step further by creating a feature piece of acoustic panels or hangings, utilising the visual appeal of modern acoustics to build a contemporary space of echo-free harmony.
4. Embrace Collaborative Work
The purpose of open-plan offices is to encourage group morality, teamwork and cooperation. But as an employee not directly involved in these shared discussions, it can become distracting and difficult to escape excess noise.
A simple solution that maintains collaborative work is to create a designated area for group discussions. Known as a breakout space, these communal areas are often filled with soft seating, casual tables and communication boards to build an informal but comfortable brainstorm session. Taking these discussions away from workstations not only eliminates noisy distractions for other workers but creates a retreat away from your desk to have a mental refresh.
Explore our range of Breakout Space furniture.
5. Soft Furnishings
Take the comfortable approach to sound-absorption with a selection of soft furnishings. Introducing an assortment of plush fabric seating and ottoman pieces is a great solution to echo and reverb within an office space. As well as their noise deflecting properties, these pieces are ideal in creating a communal breakout space, perfect for collaborative conversation or individual relaxation.
Take your soft seating to the next level by shopping around for acoustic enhanced fabrics. Modern designers are adapting and improving their designs by incorporating acoustic materials into their pieces, creating the ultimate in comfortable, sound-proof privacy.
6. Be Smart, Take breaks
An easy fix to combatting the mental drain of excess noise can be as simple as taking a quick breather. Stretching your legs, walking to the breakroom or escaping outdoors for some fresh air does wonders for the mind.
As a business owner, a quick five-minute break allows your team to refresh and reset, and by providing them with a comfortable outlet to do so will in turn ensure workplace productivity runs smoothly. Modifying your break room with comfortable furniture, relaxed lighting and acoustics, or creating a tranquil outdoor setting offers a space for employees to find a moment of peace.
7. Desk Dividers
A great solution to reducing unwanted noise within the office is introducing acoustic screen systems for your desks. Designed with sound-absorbing materials, desk-mounted acoustic screens are the ideal add-on to joint workstations, helping to deflect sound while also creating a small barrier of privacy between each desk. Whether you want a simple divider or a wrap-around style for complete privacy, these screens come in varying heights and sizes to specifically suit your needs. Desk dividers are a great way to create individual workspaces while maintaining the collaborative benefits of open plan offices.
8. Distribution of Teams
Large offices often have different departments or teams to work on specific tasks. As these offices grow and more teams fill the open-plan space, noise levels become even more disruptive. The ideal way to help this is to group teams or like-tasked staff into certain areas to reduce the spread of noise within the office. Containing these conversations within their own area allows those who need it to have quiet areas in other parts of the office. Thanks to modern design, office furniture nowadays is designed to be easily modified and adapted, therefore making office rearranging easy and simple.
Explore our range of Workstations.
9. Implement Quiet Time
One of the more straight forward and affordable options to ongoing noise and distractions within the office is simple a workplace schedule. Have management implement a schedule for ‘Quiet Time’, simply set aside an hour or two each day where no meetings or phone calls take place. This allows staff to plan their day ahead of time, and any work requiring high concentration can fall into the ‘Quiet Time’ hours of the day.
A great tip for deflecting noise in open plan offices is utilising greenery and office plants. Think large potted plants, dividing walls, vertical gardens, tall planters - get creative with it! Not only do plants act as a great way to absorb sound, but their aesthetic appeal has been proven to create a positive and tranquil atmosphere within office environments.
Explore our range of Planters.
11. Flooring & Insulation
In addition to soft seating, another excellent way to reduce echo in open spaces is to take a look at your flooring & insulation options. Spaces with hardwood or concrete flooring are renowned for reverbing sound, so a great and affordable solution is simply throwing a few rugs around the office. If you’re willing to spend a little more or looking at some office renovations, another option is to consider vinyl planking to soften your floors or improving your insulation to aid in sound-absorption.
Minimise Office Noise Today with Great Furniture
With a number of solutions on how to reduce noise in an open plan office, get in touch with us at NPS Commercial Furniture to shop our wide selection of high quality office furniture in Townsville.
NPS Commercial Furniture is a Townsville-based commercial furniture company serving multiple industries. We offer a collection of desks, chairs, tables and other office furniture to aid workplace productivity and collaboration. Sourced from leading Australian and international brands, our pieces combine quality and comfort, allowing your employees to maximise their performance.