Noise Reduction Solutions for Open Plan Offices

Noise Reduction Solutions for Open-Plan Offices

Have you ever been to one of those incredibly flashy spaces with a hardwood floor and a high ceiling, huge windows, and stainless steel surfaces?  So chic! And then you attempt to have a conversation with your new client and you can hardly hear yourself, let alone the person you’re trying to impress.  No one likes a carpet tile or a polystyrene ceiling but they do serve the purpose of softening the clattering of a busy office.  Ideally, noise reduction is an integral part of any office interior project but sometimes it ends up as an afterthought.  Some spaces prove trickier to soundproof than others. We regularly work on listed buildings where effective soundproofing can be really problematic.  Covering a Georgian manor house’s oak-panelled interiors with acoustic boards isn’t done.  So these are our tips on how to maximise the noise reduction solutions you have available without a major refit.


The arguments for having plants in an office are plenty.  Plants in the office are thought to increase happiness and productivity and they can also contribute to noise reduction.  The key to a quieter office is minimising or disrupting the hard surfaces that the sounds bounce off of.  The more plants you have the better.  Why not get all your staff to choose a plant for their own desks or create an oasis of green in an echoey meeting room?  If you’re really keen you could have a whole living wall. Remember artificial plants will reduce clatter too so if you’re worried about the watering, plastic plants could be a solution, although you obviously won’t receive the other benefits and plastic has its problems – we’d always recommend you go for the real thing.

A Soft Touch

Avoid those hard surfaces where you can.  Soft furniture deadens the sound and if you have a choice go for padded chairs over wood or plastic.  High-backed booth seating is great for creating a quiet and relatively private space and is a fantastic solution for a break-out area. There are some really simple ideas out there for adding a soft touch to your office space.  You could add a padded leather covering to supporting pillars, some strategically placed padded storage boxes or put textile-based artworks on the walls.  Be creative with your coverings. 

Floors & Ceilings

However much you may love your chic marble or rustic wood floors, carpet is king when it comes to soundproofing.  Reflooring an office is a major task so if you currently have hard flooring consider adding a few rugs.  There was a time when every advertising agency had a chesterfield sofa, oak floors and an afghan rug.  This may not be your style but it doesn’t mean you can’t introduce soft touches.  Modern runner carpets between desks can create a splash of colour and rubber mats under chairs will protect the flooring as well as dampen the sound.  No one wants the old ceiling tiles back but there are much more stylish modern solutions. Products like Maxiboard from Sound Reduction Solutions provide very effective ceiling panels that are indistinguishable from regular plaster.  There are also some pretty cool lighting/soundproofing panel combos out there so extensive construction work shouldn’t be necessary for most scenarios.

Innovation in noise reduction

Noise Reduction - Allsfar
Diffuser Screens by AllSfär

Practical, flexible and innovative solutions to your open plan office woes are being developed all the time. Forget those ugly acoustic boards of old. The technology has moved on and companies like Watford-based AllSfär are creating über-stylish sound-reducing solutions including these architectural diffuse screens (pictured) and even acoustic art canvases that soak up the sound as well as being great abstract art. Noise reduction involves a holistic approach and by combining quick fixes with a more long-term investment you can create a space that is practical and enjoyable to work in without compromising on style.

When your noise-reduction hacks are still not enough then you’ll need to invest in some professional soundproofing advice. If you are planning an office refit or need to implement a serious noise reduction plan contact us for a no-obligation quote.