How to reduce noise in an open office environment

Written by elle blake
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How to reduce noise in an open office environment
Open-plan office environments can increase productivity, if noise levels are controlled. (Ryouchin/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Open office environments are becoming more and more popular. Not only do they save space, fit more people, but they are often more efficient, too, meaning people can easily locate the person they wish to speak to without having to travel around several offices. Unfortunately, the lack of offices can mean open office environments can be quite loud, so steps must be taken to ensure noise levels are at a suitable level, and therefore office productivity kept high.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Install higher cubicle walls. Many open offices are separated with four-foot cubicle walls, but this level allows most noise to travel over them. Increasing the height of the cubicle walls to six feet is an effective way to limit the noise coming from each cubicle.

  2. 2

    Provide staff with high-quality headsets. This will prevent staff from having to use the speakerphone during conference-call meetings, when most employees will need their hands free to make notes. Choosing high-quality headsets ensures the employees will not need to speak so loudly to be heard.

  3. 3

    Provide private offices for use when necessary. Usually, conference rooms are suitable for this purpose. Provide the employees with access to the booking system, and allow them to schedule the room for important conferences, meetings or telephone calls in a private environment.

  4. 4

    Encourage employees to leave the office and attend important meetings and conferences in person. Not only does this cut down on the amount of noise in the office, but the employee will be forced to focus on the project and meeting at hand. This would, theoretically, produce higher quality results than attending a teleconference in the office, when the employee may get distracted by her co-workers.

Tips and warnings

  • During events, such as project launches, when noise levels may be higher than usual, give a few weeks' notice. This allows staff to schedule around such noisy periods.

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