How to Get Soundproof Cubicles and Start Working More Efficiently

Whether you are crunching numbers, typing up a report, planning a marketing strategy or whatever it is you do at work, all these can be quite difficult to do when you are working inside an office cubicle.

I know this from experience; in the decade I have spent working as a journalist for a local newspaper. The newsroom can be, especially when the deadline for the day is approaching, quite as chaotic as the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange. You’ll see people on the phone talking to news sources, editors speaking to (or more like screaming at) journalists and layout artists, etc.

This bedlam is not exclusive to newsrooms. Rather, it can be seen and most definitely heard, in various degrees, in virtually every office or working space in America. And while I have gotten used to it, some people just can’t and I don’t blame them at all. Because to be frank, if you can’t even hear yourself think over the din of the noise, how can you possibly produce quality work or perform your responsibilities in an efficient and effective manner?

Going back to the stock exchange where you often see people hiding underneath their desks while talking on the phone. They do this for a reason, and not because they are crazy (well, to be honest, they are), but to give themselves some isolation to better communicate with the person on the other end of the call.

I have experienced this kind of situation before, where I needed to speak to someone on the phone to gather information about a news story but couldn’t do it inside the office. So I had to go outside the office to give myself the time and space to talk to my informant, but in the process, costing me some precious time that I just did not have when up against a non-negotiable deadline.

The inescapable reality is regardless of how awful cubicles are, and how disrupting the noise is, you and I all have to deal with it. It doesn’t mean that you and your work efficiency have to suffer. There are a number of viable solutions you can apply to get soundproof cubicles and cancel or at the very least, minimize the noise pollution.

To better cope with the situation, I began doing research on soundproof cubicles and potential cubicle noise solutions. Some of these are very easy to do, and you can do on your own, and set them up on your cubicle by yourself. However, for other recommendations, you might need the say-so of your either your boss or someone from the higher-ups.

If you want to learn how to soundproof your office cubicle, click here!

Table of Contents

Don’t want to read through our whole guide? You can use our table of content to jump to the part most relevant to you!

  1. How to Soundproof Your Cubicle
  2. Bottom Line

How to Soundproof Your Cubicle

Soundproof Office Cubicle

Working in an office setting is already challenging as it is. Add to that the noise factor, and it can be downright tough to get ahead in the rat race in such cases.
When you’re trying to focus and get some work done and done the right way, it can be very off-putting to hear others working so close to you. While it’s unreasonable to completely soundproof your cubicle, there are things you can do to soften the noise as much as possible.

1) Add Furnishings

A lot of noise in offices these days comes from the sound is echoing back and reverberating off of hard surfaces. A neat way to lessen noise all around the office is to as much as possible, fill out space with soft furnishings.

Whether it is potted plants, cushions, or drapes, every little detail that you add can help minimize the sound pollution in your office. In addition, if you can talk to your boss, ask if you can rearrange the office furniture, or maybe re-negotiate a new cabinet or some bookshelves to place where the noise is generated. All these little alterations to your workplace will ensure the sound will have more surfaces to bounce off, which means, it will be elimination fairly quickly.

Another great idea (but not for all you OC folks) is to try is to keep your desk cluttered with a lot of things lying around. You can also take all the heavy files and place them stacked against the cubicle wall.

2) Place a Dense Fabric on Your Cubicle Walls

A very simple but remarkably effective solution for your office noise woes is to place a thick fabric on your cubicle walls. This is suitable for low to middle noise areas. Purchase a thick fabric that you prefer and place it over every wall of the cubicle. The fabric will absorb sound, which means less noise will reach you while you’re tending to your work responsibilities.

A fine fabric that you can try is heavy moving blankets for soundproofing. They are usually used to wrap up furniture to safeguard them from damage while in transit. But thanks to their heavy composition, they can also prevent the sound from passing through their fibers. Bear in mind and temper your expectations though, as soundproof blankets will definitely not cancel all the noise but are really inexpensive and definitely worth a shot.

3) Secure any Cracks and Gaps

Sound can seep into any cracks, gaps, and corners in your office. Fortunately, there is an ingenious solution in the form of acoustic caulk like this one. You can place it to the joints of your cubicle walls or secure the cracks that you see anywhere in your office.

Another more sensible method is to use small pieces of paper or foam and wedge them into the gaps. Foam is ideal for this, as you can simply just push it into a gap, and it will expand to fill it. If you find space at the bottom of cubicle walls, place strips of foam there also.

4) Place Some Carpets on the Floor

Another easy thing that you can do to cancel out a lot of the office ruckus, and let you focus more on the task at hand and less on nonsense, is a regular carpet.

When there’s hard flooring in an office space, the sound reverberates off of it. When this happens, women wearing high heels sound like Thor is walking past. But, if you have carpets on the floor, the noise will be diminished substantially, and you will all be able to do a lot more with the time you spend at the office.

Take note that the thicker and denser the fabric, and the more area it covers, the better off you will be. That said, throw rugs are okay, but they only cover a small area. So, try laying down a larger carpet that will give you more coverage.

Foamily Acoustic Panel

5) Install Acoustic Panels

This cubicle-soundproofing tip will need you to dig into your pockets but not too much so there is nothing to worry about; it certainly will not ask you to go ahead and rob your local bank! However, another thing that you must get is the permission of your boss or someone in authority.

Soundproof foam panels like this one are fairly easy to find and purchase. These are the same ones that are often used in most music recording studios, and you can pick up an entire pack online and have it delivered straight to your office.

Once you have these acoustic panels, cover as much of your cubicle space as you possibly can. These panels will lessen the echo that bounces inside of your cubicle and absorbs outdoor noise. Now again, as previously mentioned, you must keep your expectations in check as putting these in do not mean you’ll be working in complete and blissful silence. However, having these will help you work a lot better with the noise being softened.

Rubber Mat

6) Place Mats on the Floor

To further soundproof your office cubicle, aside from laying down a carpet, you can also place a rubber mat like this one. Once again, it is a simple tip that can help you mitigate the noise.

Much like with carpets, when buying one, you must look for mats that are thick and dense, because they will absorb sound at a much better rate. Also, if you can somehow manage to place mats all over your office space, it will significantly silence the entire working area. In all, they are a cost-effective solution that you can try, and if nothing else, they will definitely make the floor softer to tread on.

Office Partition

7) Increase the Height of Your Cubicle Walls

If ever you get permission, you can try extending the height of your cubicle walls as this is considered to be one of the more effective means to soundproof your office space. You actually have two options: you can either raise the current one you have, or you can simply purchase new walls.

Consider these tall office partition walls that are really hassle-free to install. These are solidly-built and can really make a significant difference in the noise level of your working space. The best thing about them is that they are not hollow like products of a similar nature. As a matter of fact, they have a honeycomb pattern, which is well known for its acoustic capabilities and is shaped inside the solid-wood panels.

But there are two notable downsides to this suggestion. One, these acoustic partitions would ask you to dig deep into your wallet and just might be a tad too much to buy all by yourself. And two, as mentioned above, you need permission to set these up.

Soundproof Curtains

8) Hang Soundproof Curtains

If the noise that you are battling against is not high in intensity, then hanging soundproof curtains would do the trick just fine.

Hang soundproof curtains like this one from the ceiling, and let them meet the cubicle walls. Get a thick and dense material for this, and you should be able to keep out most of the unwanted sounds that are coming from the outside of your working area. Try and sell this foolproof idea to either your boss or your colleagues and if they sign off on it, having soundproof curtains all around your office would significantly reduce the noise, giving you and your officemates an atmosphere that is more conducive to working.

Marpac White Noise

9) Purchase a White Noise Machine

Sound conditioners like this one can offer you significant help when it comes to masking the noise. Most times, people pick them up to aid them in getting sound rest, but they function just as effectively in an office setting. A constant noise will help you focus more and for longer periods of time, and block out the outside noise.

White noise machines produce a neutral audio sound, generating a sound background that blurs out the hubbub of your co-workers. You will still hear some of the ruckus, but it won’t be as disturbing if you have a white noise machine around. These are a great solution, as they only need to be plugged in and you are good to go. You don’t have to install anything, and you don’t have to bother your boss for permission.

10) You Can Also Try Having a White Noise Fan

White noise machines are a clear source of white noise. But you could also use other sound masking machines for your office like a white noise fan.

They will not only give your office a refreshing blast of air but, thanks to constant humming, also eliminate other, more irritating noises. Aside from their dual-purpose, they are also pretty inexpensive, especially when compared to white noise machines.

Room Dividers

11) Set Up Hanging Acoustic Panels

Hanging Acoustic Panels can be a great investment that holds the potential to unlocking increased work productivity.

Panels like this one are designed to subdue office reverberation. They will promptly lower the sound pollution inside your office, and eradicate the excess noise. Most companies use these as a substitute to office dividers, and you can suspend them vertically. Although effective, you must know that these have high price tags. So if you are working on a tight budget, some of the previous recommendations above might work out better.


12) Soundproof the Ceiling

Soundproofing the walls and floors of your office can be done fairly easily. But if you are keen on making your working space as soundproof as possible, you will have to soundproof the ceiling as well. That will stop the sound from bouncing off of the ceiling. These acoustic tiles will absorb sound from below, and keep the sound from above from seeping through.

13) Reorganize the Arrangement of the Office

This will take some careful and thought-out planning on your part. Just take the loudest cubicles, organize them into a block, and take the quieter teams and place them in a cubicle block that is as far away from the loud ones. This way, you’ll reduce the noise for those who can’t focus because of it, and leave it just the same for those who don’t mind at all.

14) Talk to Your Colleagues

I’m not suggesting that you are going to be confrontational. As a matter of fact, you would need the help of your officemates to make your working environment a lot better, sound-wise. Noise from people talking can be a huge problem in every office and can also be the toughest issue to resolve.

So try talking with the management team and urge them to draft and send a directive throughout the company with some office space etiquette rules. Ask people to mute their smartphones, not to take conference calls in their cubicles, and not use speakerphones during phone calls.

15) Invest in Noise Canceling Headphones

The Bose Quiet Comfort Wireless Headphones are comfortable wireless headphones that block out an outstanding amount of noise.

Whereas other headphones will start to hurt your ears when worn for too long, these still feel great even at the end of your shift. The part that touches your face is a super-soft Alcantara and synthetic protein leather with some cushion.

They are ideal for work environments because they have a built-in microphone so that you’re able to take calls without much fuss. You can use the headphones to listen to music or you can just use the noise-cancelation feature to block out all sound including noise.

The Bottom Line

There you have it: the easiest and the most inexpensive ways of keeping yourself away from unwanted background noise that will hinder your work efficiency. Once again, some of these require you to ask your boss or the HR department about it so remember to do that before moving forward with some office alterations. Nevertheless, if you try all of these steps carefully, you should be able to have yourself a nice, productive, soundproof working environment.

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