Office soundproofing ideas for the modern workplace

Loud office?


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Soundproofing of office spaces has become big business with the advent of the modern, open plan design. Though open plan layouts are great for encouraging collaboration and colleague interaction, they also mean noise levels can often reach uncomfortable levels. This is often caused by something called the Lombard effect, where people will talk louder because of noise around them, thereby increasing the noise level.
In addition, contributing factors such as poor acoustic design, and even desk layout, can mean that standard background noises can become deafening, negatively impacting productivity and employee wellbeing: a British Journal of Psychology study found that when reading or writing, background noise of any kind can seriously interfere with our concentration.

Significantly, according to Julian Treasure, chairman of The Sound Agency and author of Sound Business, the human mind has the capacity to process just 1.6 conversations at any one time. When the conversations of others become too loud, it interferes with our ability to comprehend our own inner voice and reduces our productivity, making open plan office workers up to 66% less productive.

Clearly, it’s important that employers acknowledge the negative impacts of noisy offices and aim to control it (for the sake of productivity).


Soundproofing your office

With open plan offices seemingly here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future, office managers and employees are left to manage the negative effects of this modern trend – for example, overwhelming noise. Excessive noise levels will often affect every member of an office space. As a result, a solution that all staff will be happy with is required. 

With open plan offices now making up more than half of offices in the UK, more and more companies are coming up with new ways to reduce noise without sacrificing the collaborative benefits of open plan spaces.

But which solution is best for you?


Divide and conquer (excessive noise)

One of the most common solutions for ‘soundproofing’ your office space is the inclusion of desk dividers, or desk screens.

Desk dividers are in many ways a less obtrusive version of the still popular cubicle design you might find in many US offices, surrounding a desk and providing a designated workspace without entirely blocking communication between those on a desk bank.

Desk divider for soundproofing

However, while popular, they provide a limited level of soundproofing, offering extra privacy more than anything. Full sized room dividers are often a dirty word to many proponents of the open office layout system, but they do still have their uses when used sparingly. A business requires all kinds of different departments to run effectively, and it’s an undisputed fact that some of these departments produce different levels of noise due to their responsibilities.

Departments such as marketing and design will often be the quietest members of your office, as their duties require focus and concentration, whereas you will generally find departments such as sales and customer service are louder as they will regularly be on the phone. Placing a small number of dividers between the ‘least noisy’ and ‘noisiest’ departments of your office can do wonders, limiting noise bleed between departments without shutting either away.

If you can’t quite bring yourself – or your manager – round to this way of thinking, a reasonable middle ground might be found by positioning departments with vastly different volumes on opposite sides of the office.


Dedicated spaces

An alternative to dividing up sections of the office is instead providing quiet areas where employees can go to get some peace and quiet when performing a particularly focus-heavy task. Some offices have even broken the mold and gone in the opposite direction, creating ‘loud spaces’ for particularly noisy tasks. These are great for work events and parties too.

By providing these specialised areas, you can balance out the general volume of the office, and provide space for employees to perform their tasks to the best of their ability.


The proof is in the padding

Soundproof padding is usually found in places that require almost perfect silence, such as recording booths and radio studios. But more and more, this spongy wonder material is finding its way into open plan offices, providing a comprehensive solution to rising noise levels. Usually supplied in tiles, you can attach them to walls and ceilings, and they will absorb much of the noise you might find in the modern workplace. However, though more and more padding suppliers are creating new and unique designs, these panels will often give your office an unavoidable ‘recording studio’ look.

Another issue many people encounter when taking advantage of soundproof padding, alongside the cost and specialist nature of the product, is the reduction in available wall space once it is installed. Padding will often take up valuable space which you could use for notice boards, collaborative work spaces or branding.


The smart solution

But what if you didn’t have to choose between a sound-absorbent wall solution and a creative, usable space?

Our range of colourful, bespoke MagiShape notice boards provide a collaborative area to share ideas and company updates with everyone in the office using standard pushpins or velcro, while simultaneously balancing the acoustics of your office thanks to their absorbent design.

We can cut our MagiShape boards to your specifications, and the boards are frameless, just like our Chameleon whiteboards, and either sticky-backed or fixed with screws and colour coordinated screw caps, meaning they can be laid out to cover even large or awkwardly designed walls entirely, maximising their acoustic effectiveness.

What’s more, MagiShape boards are made from 65% recycled post consumer waste plastic and 35% recycled pre consumer waste plastic, making them 100% recyclable and a far more eco-friendly alternative to soundproof padding.

A bespoke and modern MagiShape notice board is not only a great way to personalise and soften your workspace, but also a clever method of bringing a bit of quiet into today’s hectic open plan offices.

To find out more about the MagiShape board, or any of our eco-friendly, bespoke notice and whiteboard solutions, call our product experts on 01952 292111, or email them at


Contact our Customer Service Team today to see how we can help you create your bespoke solution.

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