Office Acoustics: How to Soundproof Your Workspace

Office Acoustics Snowsound Baffle Ceiling Acoustic Panels

The challenge of office acoustics is something architects, interior designers and space planners and have been wrestling with since the office became a central place for work. What are office acoustics?  Office acoustics refer to the way sound behaves in the work environment, ranging from small background noises to regular speaking volume. Throughout the many forms and evolutions the office has taken, noise has been a consistent factor viewed in different ways, especially in recent decades when open-plan office layouts have become more popular.  Are workers distracted by poor acoustics and can’t concentrate? Or do they find themselves ready to sacrifice peace and quiet to be immersed in collaboration and desire to be surrounded by others?

How do we find the perfect balance?

Use office acoustic solutions.


Photo: Loftwall Parallel Desk Divider

The Great Variety of Office Acoustic Solutions


Photo: Nevins Ariel Acoustic Hanging Panel

Office acoustics solutions are products that absorb and diffuse sound waves and vibrations to reduce noise in a workspace. They can also improve sound quality and are typically made of lightweight materials such as polyester fibre, mineral wool, or biophilic elements like wood, cork or moss. These materials come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors, and oftentimes may serve as decorative objects. There are various types of acoustic products. They can be integral parts of the office, like ceiling tiles, panels, carpeting, and double-paned windows.  They can also serve a combination of aesthetic and functional purpose like dividers, planters, and ancillary furniture and accessories.

The Hybrid Schedule 

Now that more people are coming back to the office, many businesses are turning to a hybrid work model that allows employees to work at a fixed schedule in-office and remotely for the sake of flexibility and better work-life balance. Harvard Business Review and Stanford’s research shows that the hybrid work scenario where workers go to the office for at least three days a week is 50% more effective at completing tasks, boosting motivation and increasing engagement with their work. Individuals are using this work model to their advantage; working remotely in privacy and isolation to concentrate on their assignments, and coming to the office in person to be immersed in the company culture, foster connection, and spark creativity through collaboration.

Office Acoustics in Open-Plan Spaces

The hybrid schedule led to the return of open-plan layout and industrial office lofts: environments known for being flexible with space and capable of supporting different work styles while encouraging communication and innovation. But the open office comes with potential issues too. Collaborating together creates noise that can serve as a distraction for others who needs to focus. Now, companies are very much invested in looking for a solution that would resolve their sound issues and help divide spaces into designated areas. That’s why with the reemergence of open-plan spaces, office acoustic panels that function as space dividers are now becoming increasingly popular.  Many are being used not only to dampen noise and optimize sound quality, but to divide spaces and create separate environments for different applications and purposes. 

The Right Balance of Sound

One should never underestimate the power of office acoustics, especially in the workplace. Office acoustics can have an enormous effect on the overall working environment, dictating how well people communicate and perform they daily tasks. It’s all about finding a good balance. Instead of swinging between two extremes of isolation and noise, acoustic solutions can restore equilibrium in the workplace and come with many benefits. By absorbing sound and reducing noise, these products can significantly improve the overall sound quality and help achieve the best acoustics for office environments with the additional perks of boosting concentration, effective communication and worker productivity.

Multi-Functional Office Acoustics


Photo: Nevins Bio Canvas Wall

Best of all, acoustic solutions can be multi-functional. Why clutter your office space with too many products that only serve one purpose when you can save space with just one? Today, there’s an endless array of products in the market ranging from space dividers, desk shields, wall panels, suspended ornaments, planters, shelving, soft furniture, cubbies, ceiling tiles and more.  It also comes with the added bonus of offering clients a strong, favorable impression the moment they walk through the company doors, especially now that corporations have taken more initiative to create and present stronger, identifiable brands.  All in all, office acoustics solutions not only optimize the overall sound quality of your office environments but also add immense value by elevating the look and feel of the entire office space, ultimately enhancing overall mood, productivity, creativity and employee well-being. 

As our needs in the office evolve, our offices evolve with them. And the key to answering the challenge of balancing collaboration and productivity with privacy and concentration: office acoustic solutions. 

Recommended Office Acoustic Solutions

MERGEWORKS ECHODECO BEAM BAFFLES – Office acoustic ceiling panels like the MergeWorks EchoDeco Beam Baffles can be hung horizontally and add a pop of fun texture and color while ensuring noise levels stay low. Acoustic baffles are great for controlling reverberation in spaces with high ceilings and give a sense of privacy in an open space. 


Photo: MergeWorks EchoDeco Beam Baffles

SNOWSOUND SI SBOCCIA – When sound bounces off hard surfaces and amplifies unwanted noise, wall panels are extremely helpful in office soundproofing and can even double as art pieces. The Snowsound Si Sboccia panel takes inspiration from rosebuds and can be wall-mounted or suspended from the ceilings as decorative design elements.

SCANDINAVIAN SPACES PIXEL AND PIXEL FRAMED – The Scandinavian Spaces Pixel and Pixel Framed panels are made of organic materials such as wood and moss.  They are excellent as office acoustic wall panels because they can absorb a range of frequencies with little-to-no maintenance, and provide great color and texture to your office walls. 

AMQ’S 3F WALL TILE – AMQ’s 3F Wall Tiles are another artistic office acoustic panels solution that can improve sound quality with its wide array of subtle and bold panels made from felt—a fibrous material with excellent sound-insulating properties. 


Photo: Snowsound Si Sboccia, Scandinavian Spaces Pixel and Pixel Framed, and AMQ’s 3F Wall Tiles

LOFTWALL ROOMS WALL SYSTEM – Office acoustic solutions can take other forms, too. The Loftwall Rooms Wall System is a quick and easy way to carve out your separate office spaces using a demountable partition system that has sound absorbing and sound dampening benefits.


Photo: Loftwall Rooms Wall System

MERGEWORKS URBAN WALLS ROOM DIVIDER – Similarly, the MergeWorks Urban Walls Room Divider makes perfect office acoustic partitions that can construct meeting rooms, huddle spaces, or private areas in a blink of an eye without the added expense. Its acrylic wall panels are an effective sound barrier that keeps noise contained where it needs to be, and also provides tack-boards and dry-erase boards for even more use and functionality.


Photo: MergeWorks Urban Walls Room Divider

MAVERICK PLANTERS – Maverick Planters reduce noise pollution because vegetation naturally absorbs and diffuses sound. Planters can also be used as partitions to divide the space in the office and come with additional benefits like providing privacy, increasing productivity and improving air quality. 


Photo: Maverick Planters

LOFTWALL SHIFT SHELF AND SPACE DIVIDER – Loftwall’s Shift Shelf and Space Divider combine necessity with privacy. Shelves are extremely useful for storage and organizing in the workplace, and Loftwall adds their own ingenious take on office essentials by creating a modern shelving solution that carves out spaces, offers storage, and uses stylishly clever panels to control acoustics.


Photo: Loftwall Shift Shelf and Space Divider

Read Also: Stylish Noise Reducing Office Furniture Trends for 2024
Main Photo: Snowsound Baffle Ceiling Panel
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: AMQLoftwall, Maverick, MergeWorks, Scandinavian Spaces, Snowsound

Designing Your Office Space from Top-Down to Bottom-Up

Designing Your Office Space from Top-Down to Bottom-Up

If you’re looking to create a new office design when designing your office space, an effective way to begin the process is to consider how different layouts will benefit the workflow. The goal is to help your company function efficiently. After all, work needs to get done.

Now consider the human element and how your team can work at its best.

An office isn’t just about placing workstations and then fitting your people into slots. Social and psychological dynamics matter as well.

Designing Your Office Space from Top-Down to Bottom-Up
Photo: Allermuir, Arcadia Contract & OFS

Chart Your Basic Workflow Needs

Analyze the different functions in your business, ranging from your core function—the reason your business exists—to the support functions like sales and marketing, finance, and customer care. The principles of laying out an office are timeless. A write-up from 1995 in MIT’s Sloan Management Review noted that “technological innovation and creative space design together make solutions possible.”

Here are the “tactical initiatives” highlighted in the article that benefit an organization:

  • Ergonomic planning
  • Defining group and personal workspaces
  • Offering shared workspace
  • Accommodating remote workers

This is the top-down approach that relies on higher authority figures who see the wider goals and filter decisions down to the tasks of lower-level employees. In contrast, the bottom-up style gathers staff input and gives everyone a voice.

Ergonomics works well based on employee input since the concept is to fit the workplace to the needs of people and how they function. Their suited to say what’s comfortable and what works or doesn’t work.

That’s what co-working spaces have done. They’d set up shop, sign up freelancers and remote workers who wanted to use the facilities, and took feedback on what the users liked or didn’t like. Then they’d make adjustments as necessary.

A “bottom-up” approach when designing your office space can fine-tune plans to arrive at a satisfying solution.

Create an Invitation—Not a Maze—When Designing Your Office Space

When you design or freshen your office space, imagine that you’re working with your team to make a space that’s inviting. You’re not creating a maze of modular workstations, so let your employees know that you’d like their thoughts on what makes an office welcoming.

Some may not have much of an opinion while others may want to share what works for them and what can be changed. If they’re recent hires then they may have positive or negative opinions about their previous office environment.


Photo: OFS Height Adjustable Workstations 

Take the approach used in the book Life of Work, What Office Design can Learn from the World Around Us. The authors, Jeremy Myerson and Imogen Privett, undertook a major research project and concluded that while “most contemporary offices satisfies physical and functional requirements, it seldom supports the psychological comfort and individual needs of the people who use them every working day.”

Get ideas for how people relate to design by doing what the authors did: looking at diverse spaces like theater layouts, newsrooms and medical offices.

Take a look around and adapt what works for your people within the physical space available.

Select from Different Office Styles

2010 Office Furniture’s Inspiration page reveals several different layouts and their aesthetics. Each layout makes a statement and can easily be tailored to reflect your company’s brand and enhance the office atmosphere.  It’s a great resource for inspiration when designing your office space.

A modern, abstract office uses bold colors and fascinating shapes. Modular lounge furniture can work well.


Photo: The Senator Group Mote Lounge

Contemporary industrial style offices pay homage to a city’s past while bringing comfort and functionality into present times. Google’s office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania brings in original brickwork into a space that’s “unconventional and inspiring.”

Use your surrounding city to spark features. A space in Irvine may be sleek and modern while an office in Ontario or the San Dimas area can harken back to local history.

How about an upbeat, contemporary look? You may have a traditional accounting firm but why not add splashes of color? Should pediatric dental offices have all the design fun?

In an open office plan, use different styles of workstations and colors to differentiate teams with their distinct responsibilities.

For private executive offices, choose between elegant designs or more casual ones, with both options being able to integrate technology in the desks and cabinets.


Photo: AMQ Work-From-Home Workstation

Health and wellness is a major consideration in this age of Covid-19 precautions so consider accessories and layouts for a social distancing workplace.

Don’t forget the breakroom. Create a small gathering place with chairs and tables that are easily moved or create a lounge near a kitchen space. Offices aren’t just about desks and cubicles so invest in plenty of healthy snacks and drinks that people enjoy.

Consider the Types of Work

Different functions are needed to make a company hum along the road to profitability. People with unique skill sets can have different personalities. It’s not your task to please everyone with a layout, but you can take into account the various needs that people have when designing your office space.

A graphic designer, computer programmer or engineer will need hours of quiet to focus while a marketing and sales team is going to be more collaborative and creative.

Make the office a positive social environment and don’t hesitate to experiment with new trends and refresh a look every few years.

Know your goals. Do you project growth in the near future using staff who are on-site or through remote workers? You can be nimble to provide for current needs and still plan for what can happen in the years to come.

Need Help Designing Your Office Space?

You don’t need to go it alone in office design. The team at 2010 Office Furniture has nearly 50 years of combined experience helping leading companies and nonprofits in Southern California lay out office spaces and provide furnishings that promote employee well-being.

Contact them with your project needs and questions as you undertake designing your office space.

Read Also: The Best Office Spaces are Responsive to Employee Needs
Main Photo: Groupe Lacasse
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: Allermuir, AMQ, Arcadia Contract, Groupe Lacasse, OFS & The Senator Group