Offices have changed a lot in the past few years. Everyone went from working in offices to their homes, then back to the office. Many people are still at home while others have chosen a hybrid schedule for a better work-life balance. And despite all this change, one thing about workspaces hasn't changed – most people do their best work in quiet spaces.
But in the age of hybrid schedules and busy office environments, those aren’t always easy to find. But with a bit of creativity, you can soundproof your home or work office with room dividers to improve focus, increase productivity, and boost your mental health.
Here’s how to do it.
Transform your home office
For those of you still working remotely, congratulations. We’re extremely jealous. And by now you’ve upgraded your home office setup from the kitchen table to a dedicated desk space. That’s a good start. But there’s still room for improvement.
Soundproofing your home office will completely transform your workflow, improving your performance and mood. No more echo-filled virtual calls or errant background noise – stay focused with acoustic room dividers that absorb sound so you can stay focused.
To create the perfect home office, you’ll first need to consider how sound travels throughout your entire home and the room you’re in. Is the room right next to the living room or kitchen? Is it close to the noisy street? These are all things to consider.
Generally, the most isolated room in your home is the best place for the office. If they’re all equally loud, determine where the loudest or most consistent sounds are coming from. Then place the dividers between you and those points to absorb the sound. Here are some common setups.
For corner offices
It might not be the corner office that you’ve always dreamed of, but room corners are one of the most common locations for home office spaces. To give it the professional upgrade it needs, add a divider as a third wall. This will absorb the sound traveling through your home, preventing any distractions from work.
Of course, you could add a second divider behind you to completely enclose and soundproof your office. Don’t worry about feeling too claustrophobic though, their lightweight profile makes them easy to move when the workday ends.
As an added bonus, it will serve as a consistent background for virtual meetings. That way, your family can still walk behind you without interrupting your meeting.
For added privacy in a dedicated home office
If you have a dedicated home office but are still distracted by unwanted noise, a bit of strategic design can put an end to your frustration.
Doorways are the easiest point of entry into a room for soundwaves. Place a divider between your desk and the doorway to create a partial cubicle that prevents any distractions. For added protection, place a towel or draft stopper underneath the door to further limit the passage of sound waves.
If you have single-pane windows, you know exactly how loud it is outside. That’s because there is no air gap between the outside and the glass, meaning sound travels as vibrations through the glass. Rather than replacing your windows, place a room divider between the window and your work area. Curtains are another low-cost alternative for external sound reduction.
For even more control, line your walls with acoustic panels to deaden sounds in your work space and block unwanted noise from adjacent rooms.
Close off your busy office space
Though you may have been excited to head back into the office, you probably weren’t looking forward to hearing your noisy coworkers gossip, chew loudly, or type away on mechanical keyboards. Those sounds are enough to distract even the most focused individuals, especially when they’re happening simultaneously.
But with some well-placed acoustic dividers, you won’t have to hear any of it. Instead, you’ll be able to focus and keep the office volume to a minimum.
Leverage exterior walls
Most commercial buildings have excellent exterior insulation, meaning that all of the distracting sounds originate from inside the building. To block out those distractions, position your desk near an exterior wall and place at least one divider directly behind you. It will absorb sound waves that originate behind you and deflect residual waves away from your desk.
If you have the space and budget, place two dividers at a 45 degree angle behind your chair to fully absorb and deflect the sounds traveling in your direction. And as an added bonus, you’ll have a private meeting room.
For team-based layouts
Team-based office layouts are great for collaboration, embracing the best of team and individual work styles. But it’s not a perfect solution. Some teams, like sales, tend to be louder than others, like engineers. And if they’re both set in the same open floor plan, it’s only a matter of time before one team starts to distract the other.
Even if there is enough space to separate teams, it may not be the best idea for collaborative work. Soundproofing dividers preserve the team environment without sacrificing focus. They’ll contain conversations among teams and create a more comfortable, personalized workspace.
And even though everyone will have their own sound privacy, they won’t be fully disconnected to the open office layout. The dividers simply absorb sound, not cut the space off completely. So when you need an open space for all-hands meetings or team-building, just move the dividers out of the way.
For coworking spaces
Coworking spaces are great for community-building, socializing, and working. But many of them lack any private space for meetings or deep work.
The best coworking spaces in the world know that everyone works in different ways. While some work best in hectic environments, others want nothing but peace and quiet. To accommodate all working styles, there needs to be a space for everyone.
Create sections with large desks and ancillary furniture that cater to socializing and networking. Designate other areas for individual workspaces, separated by room dividers. Stagger dividers between the two to better control the sound of each area.
For after-hours events, push the dividers off to the side for a completely open space.
Whether you’re working from home, the office, or a shared space, it’s impossible to work in loud, distracting environments. The struggle to focus and complete work, ultimately leads to frustration and ineffectiveness. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to acoustic comfort – it will change the way you work.
And while it’s possible to build good habits to separate work from life, the time we invest in work should be pleasant and productive. Soundproofing your office is just one way to make that happen, creating a space that looks and sounds beautiful.