Don’t Let Noise Ruin Your Office

Open offices are a reality of the workplace. As many as 8 out of 10 workers in open-plan environments recognized the benefits of increased collaboration, engagement, and knowledge transfer, not to mention greater space efficiency. For all their value, open offices bring acoustic challenges that have a profound impact on the people who occupy them.

Nearly 75% of employees feel managed noise levels are an important quality in an effective workplace, according to the Leesman Index, a workplace experience survey of more than 350,000 employees across 2,700 workplaces in 69 countries.

However, just 30% of employees in the Leesman database are satisfied with noise levels in their workplace. Dissatisfaction with noise is statistically the strongest indicator of poorly perceived productivity and the main source of workspace dissatisfaction.

The good news is that numerous strategies exist to make the noise level bearable for all occupants in an open work environment.


High ceilings create reverberant acoustics that blurs voices in the distance, so occupants can converse face to face, but conversations more than a few feet away will be unintelligible. Acoustics may be improved with varied forms and materials: FilzFelt hanging baffles in shapes and other decorative designs, suspended ceiling tiles or acoustic foam that is sprayed into designated areas.


Soft carpets dampen noise, helping in open offices particularly with foot-fall sounds. Cushion-backing adds more sound attenuation.


Wrapping two perpendicular walls with acoustical panels, such as KnollTextiles Acoustically Neutral Panel Fabrics, or incorporating angled or curved walls in meeting rooms can reduce reverberation of sound. Such treatments eliminate parallel walls that bounce sound back and forth or maximize the effect of the acoustical substrate itself.


Interior elements and free-standing surfaces can attenuate sound without compromising design.

Fabric and Draperies: Fabric and draperies have been part of sound-absorbing strategies for centuries. The drapery fullness and the distance from the window increase the basic absorption offered by the fabric itself.


Workstation Elements: Sound should be captured as close to the source as possible, making desktop elements with absorbent materials an effective sound-reduction strategy. Fabric-backed workstation panels or screens and/or bookshelves, tackable surfaces, acoustical panels, screens, and dividers are options.

Quiet Spaces

Much like a train’s quiet car, a dedicated zone for heads down, non-collaborative work by multiple users can eliminate outside distractions and boost productivity. Designate an unused office or conference room or create a space with furniture, screens, fabric or felt panels or Rockwell Unscripted Creative Wall. Include spaces for both quiet focused work and silent reflection.

Do you need help with noise in your office? Contact us, and our experienced team will help you love your office.

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