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How to Soundproof Office Cubicles and Stay Productive

Silent Home Hub Soundproof Office Cubicles

Now that you’re back in the office, you’re trying to adjust back to the old ways. You try to look at the bright side.

It feels nice to be back in civilization!

Except…

YOU JUST CAN’T STAND THE CUBICLE NOISE.

But don’t worry! We’ll tell you how to soundproof your cubicles.

There are solutions to block out the office noise and get you back to that productive grind again.

Table of Contents

3-Step Guide to Soundproof an Office Cubicle

Before you can soundproof an office cubicle, here’s a short list of the tools and materials you’ll be needing:

Tools you’ll need:

  • Drill
  • Screwdrivers
  • Tape
  • Tape measure

Materials you’ll need:

  • Acoustic sealant
  • Acoustic panel
  • Acoustic tiles
  • Adhesive
  • Carpeting

Step 1: Fill in the Blanks (and Gaps!)

As with any project, small steps make way for BIG CHANGES!

Let’s start with sealing up those PESKY nooks and crannies of the cubicle space. Doing this works wonders in preventing noise from entering cubicles, a precious space for productivity.

The Solution

Block out all the noise in the office cubicle by applying some acoustic sealant to the tiny little holes in your work area. LOOK OUT for small cracks and gaps near walls, doorways, and windows.

Doing this may take some time; one must be patient! Sealing up the gaps makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE in office space noise reduction.

PRO TIP: Invest in a high-quality acoustic sealant like Green Glue to guarantee it lasts for years in the office cubicle area!

But if Sealant Isn’t an Option…

Alternatively, you can also use some pieces of paper or foam for a quick and cost-effective fix to office cubicle noise!

Think of it like this…

You wouldn’t want holes in your precious ship, right?

Make your productivity sail high, and kiss the noise from cubicles goodbye!

Step 2: Build From the Ground Up!

Now that you’ve started with the small things, you can now start building your peaceful sanctuary for work efficiency.

Soundproofing your floors make working in a noisy office cubicle a breeze!

Consider taking this route, especially if your office has HARDWOOD floors. It might look shiny, shimmering, and splendid until you realize: this is the bane of your noise-free dreams.

Shoes, especially high heels, make SO MUCH NOISE every time it hits the floor.

The Solution

Vinyl tiles are the industry standard in getting the acoustics right for your office cubicle floors! Unfortunately, not many offices and workspaces have these in their floor plan.

These are generally available ANYWHERE and are a great option to make your cubicle an ideal working environment.

Build to your heart’s content! (with permission from your employer, of course)

If you can convince your employer to apply some vinyl tiles in the cubicles and hallways, the better!

After all, it wouldn’t hurt to ask if it’s for the better!

But if Vinyl Tiles Aren’t an Option…

We have an easy fix, and it’s DEFINITELY a WIN. Are you ready?

A CARPET.

Soft and high-density materials like carpets, rugs, and rubber mats are HIGHLY EFFICIENT for sound-absorbing and will minimize noise coming from your cubicle.

For a better, noise-free office environment, diversify the materials you put on the cubicle floor. It IMPROVES the mass for ideal sound absorption.

Your office probably already has some of these in stock, too! So it’s best to ask your boss if you can borrow any just to reduce the noise levels.

Trust us, your other co-workers and maybe even other employees in the building will surely follow suit in their own cubicles!

And hey, a carpet can be a great touch-up to make your office cubicle comfortable, too!

Step 3: Work the Walls!

Next up on your journey to office noise reduction is to soundproof the four walls around you.

One might be stressed out from all the distracting background noise that stops you from concentrating on your job.

IMAGINE: All the buzzing printer sounds, loud beeps from the phone system, whirring desk fans, paper shredder noises, that one manic coworker who types too loud, and other noisy equipment.

You would think cubicle etiquette isn’t so hard to ask for…right?

WE FEEL YOU.

These might seem like small ambient sounds, but collectively, it’s going to be a distracting collage of unwanted noise that makes your office job unbearable.

But you’re not alone though, a lot of office workers deal with this every day. It can get pretty annoying and will definitely make you miss your home office setup. (It was peaceful bliss, yes, we know.)

But that can’t stop you from taking action!

The Solution

Enter the world of acoustic panels to soften up the noise.

Reinforcing the cubicle walls with a noise-canceling product is pretty SIMPLE and STRAIGHTFORWARD, too.

Apply some soundproofing material like acoustic panels, foam panels, and the like to your cubicle area and wall partitions.

The way these types of panels work is truly amazing.

The panel surface absorbs the ambient noise from outside your cubicle walls, effectively dampening the loud sounds you despise! Talk about an effective solution to reduce noise pollution, huh?

Ideally, apply these towards where the annoying noises like traffic noise and loud phone calls come from.

But if Panels Aren’t an Option…

We have more quick hacks to soundproof your walls, just for you!

Although, we understand if some companies wouldn’t allow hanging acoustic panels to cubicle walls, and this route can be an expensive one to take.

But that shouldn’t stop you from your job to reduce noise.

One other alternative is more manageable, though, and won’t require you to go to special sound-proofing stores too!

You can use a type of thick fabric like soundproofing blankets, soundproof curtains, soundproof room dividers, or even THAT UNUSED comforter lying around to diffuse the loud noise interrupting you from work! Just make sure to cover as much surface as you can!

Soundproof curtains and office dividers can be effective and cost-efficient solutions to dampen sound waves entering your cubicle wall and will make working in an office so much better.

And it’s there to say NO.

REMEMBER: The thicker and denser the fabric and the more surface area it covers, the better.

Many people in your office will be amazed at your commitment and creativity in the quest to chase away noise pollution!

Optional Step: Top It All Off With Office Soundproofing!

So you’ve set up everything within the cubicle, from the floor space to the walls of your office space.

You sit down, type comfortably in front of your desktop in your newly sound-treated cubicle.

But you realize something’s off…

You can still hear some unwanted sound and background noise, but only by a teensy bit. So you went out of your way to check if there are any gaps, but you can’t.

Until you realize that there’s one HUGE GAPING HOLE on top of your cubicle.

Oh no… Some sound is still going through the ceiling!

Although absolute sound isolation isn’t physically possible in an office, this can be an optional step.

Applying acoustic panels on the ceiling can be the cherry on top of your noise isolation dream space, but we’re completely aware that not all offices may give you the chance to do so.

But just in case you’d like to go the extra mile, and you think you can convince your boss to let you apply acoustic panels, it is well worth the shot! It can be a bit costly, though.

You can reduce the noise even further by soundproofing the ceiling to stop the sound from bouncing off!

REMEMBER: Sound travels around by bouncing off a surface until it’s absorbed. Think of it like a ball in a game of PONG.

It will stop faster if there are dense sound-absorbing surfaces like panels on your cubicle walls!

For a more complete sound-insulating guide for your workspace, you can check out the Complete Guide on Office Soundproofing to get started.

Tips and Tricks: Beyond the Office Cubicle Walls

Now that we’ve taught you to fill the little gaps, consider soft materials with a dense mass on wall surfaces, and sound treating the ceilings of your office space.

Try to make the space yours!

Let’s go over some of the small things you can do to achieve workplace nirvana of productivity and silence.

Just note these are some of the recommended optional things, but they can still help you out the noise coming from your cubicle!

1. Fix Things With Furnishings

Cubicles can sometimes be a HIT or MISS for your productivity, as they are notorious for the overwhelming noise pollution it does for the workspace.

They have terrible acoustics because of the hard surfaces it has! And just imagine a room riled up with them, closely knit together. It can be a mayhem of noise, and we want none of that!

Of course, the least you can do after treating it for optimal sound isolation is to make it comfortable.

One big thing you can do is to put some soft and small things like pillows and fluffy rugs in a personal office working space to absorb sound.

If you’re a nature lover, one more thing you can consider is noise isolating plants.

There are plenty of them, and you can just choose the kind that you like! Here are some of them that you can look for on your next trip to the farmer’s market:

  • Rubber plants
  • Weeping fig
  • Peace lilies

Aside from giving you a more laid-back and relaxing atmosphere within your cubicle walls, you can check out the plants we mentioned.

Try to put the furnishings around the shelves, on top of desks to maximize the effect in your cubicle!

2. Get Softer Office Furniture

Like what we mentioned earlier, sound travels less if it bounces on a softer surface.

It wouldn’t be as EFFICIENT if your fixtures are made of steel cabinets and drawers, right?

Take note that having a hard surface inside cubicles won’t do any good for sound isolation. It’ll just end up bouncing around the room, keeping you distracted.

Maybe consider getting soft furnishings for your office space. Not only will it MAXIMIZE COMFORT while working, but it’ll also do a neat job of reducing those cubicle noise problems.

Select furniture like lounge chairs and maybe even a bean bag to help absorb sound and all sorts of noise within the cubicle walls.

At least with these softer types of fixtures, there will be less noise bouncing around the walls.

Combine these with your newly added sound-absorbing carpet and cushions, and you now have the homey personal workspace you’ve always dreamed of.

It gives your space a more personalized look, too!

3. Fight the Noise With White Noise Machines

Who would’ve known that a constant, droning hum from a white noise machine can provide huge benefits for productivity and sound isolation?

People commonly use white noise machines to fall asleep, but this sound conditioner does the job for noisy environments, too.

The constant low-level background noise helps you work better while blocking out the outside sounds that keep you from doing your job efficiently!

If you’re willing to invest in a white noise machine, this route is one great solution because it requires almost NO EFFORT! Just place it on top of your desk and let the magic work on its own.

Alternatively, you can also get a white noise fan that works the same AND keep your office space nicely cool and comfortable.

Plus, other people in the office may notice the productive aura in your cubicle, too!

Learn more about it in this video:

4. Noise Cancelling Headphones, Anyone?

If the options above are unavailable to you, or if they feel like a longshot, you don’t have to worry.

Technology in our civilization has come a long way, and the tech gods have blessed us with one way to comfortably enjoy noise reduction that you can carry around in your bag, and they come in the form of…

Yes, you guessed it!

HEADPHONES!

Essentially, a noise-canceling headphone works to isolate constant ambient sounds through small ambient microphones that detect the noise around you.

It cancels the sound out by evening out the frequencies that you hear.

It is not, by all means, soundproof, but it does an amazing job at reducing some of the noise coming from cubicles

So if carpets, sealants, and acoustic panels are not part of your options to soundproof a cubicle, take matters to your own ears (literally) and invest in a new pair of headphones.

It makes a great choice if you like listening to music while working, too! With your favorite tunes on, work will feel like a breeze.

PRO TIP: Aside from music, you can play white noise while you have noise-canceling headphones to reduce the noise in your office space.

It works the same way as a white noise machine but will make it more isolated for better efficiency to block out all the cubicle noise.

5. Bring It Up to Your Boss

As people, we all know that COMMUNICATION is key.

Talking to your boss about noisy cubicles is a valid point because it stops you from maximizing your ability to do your job well.

If you’re feeling anxious, you shouldn’t be!

Your boss will really appreciate constructive feedback because a good office environment and cubicle etiquette do work wonders for employees and their productivity.

Maybe consider recommending minor touch-ups like:

  • Replacing loud ringing phones with headsets to cut down the loud sound.
  • Adding a carpet to the office flooring for better aesthetics and sound-reducing functionality.
  • Implementing quiet zones in the area with cubicles, especially during working hours.

Communicating about these SIMPLE and COST-EFFECTIVE things can make a huge impact not only on you but also on other employees.

Who knows, this can lead to the possibility of many office successes in the future, and it’s all because of minimizing the sound distractions!

6. Communicate With Co-Workers

Opening concerns with other co-workers can do GOOD for the noise issues in the office, as well!

Try to politely tell them if they type too loudly or engage too loudly with office banter.

Don’t get us wrong, this is all normal in an office setting, especially!

Co-workers, beyond office hours, are friends too.

It wouldn’t hurt to remind them that they may be doing things that can be distracting, and they’re unaware of it.

Remember: You are all on the same page on being productive during working hours. Sharing awareness about the issue can significantly help the office!

Bonus: Stay Productive With These Recommendations!

Feeling your best self is optimal in performing well for your day job.

Don’t forget that even the smallest things matter to keep you going, so we made a list so you don’t forget!

Plan Ahead for the Day

It helps make a mental or physical list of the things you need to do for the day before starting out.

This habit enables you to organize your tasks well and set a time for each thing you need to accomplish!

A good rule of thumb in organizing your tasks is to set the top three tasks you need to finish first, so the rest of the day will sail smoothly.

Take Quick Breaks

Feeling your best on the job requires you to make time for yourself, too.

Eat snacks, do stretches, watch Key and Peele, and don’t forget to hydrate. It’s okay to pause for a bit to catch your breath. Even for just 5 minutes!

Try Adding Scents to Your Cubicle Space

A fun bonus to staying productive in your soundproof space is to spice it up!

You can use a small humidifier, essential oil diffuser, or even scented candles to keep yourself stimulated while working. Make that workspace yours; you deserve it!

Use Quieter Office Appliances

No one likes the sound of noisy beeping, shredding, and rattling in the office. To help you stay productive in your workspace, using quieter office appliances is a MUST.

Try to convince your boss to invest in quieter paper shredders, quieter desk fans, and other quieter office appliances.

Not only are these just as effective as their LOUDER counterparts, but they won’t bother you from getting your workflow going!

Conclusion

Top view of using apple macbook

We hope you enjoyed our quick how-to guide to soundproof an office cubicle!

After all, it’s your MECCA of PRODUCTIVITY for 5 days a week.

Making it ideal for spending your time and adapting it to your needs is truly essential.

Just make sure to communicate with your superior before making any major changes, though!

If you enjoyed this guide, pass it forward and share it with friends, co-workers, and loved ones who are struggling with office noise.

We’re all (peacefully) in this together!


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July 8, 2021 – removed 2 external links, removed 6 affiliate links

July 2, 2021 – added 1 new section, moved 2 internal links to a new section

June 23, 2021 – added 1 new internal link

June 22, 2021 – added 1 new internal link

June 4, 2021 – added changelog, removed 4 internal links, added 1 new affiliate link, fixed and updated article formatting and content, optimized content

About the Author

andrea_adams

Andrea has always been bombarded by the hustle and bustle outside her home. Living in the city doesn’t get any quieter. The never ending noise from construction, traffic, and dogs barking on the streets day in and day out drove Andrea to a breaking point.

For 3 years, Andrea committed herself to studying DIY hacks, performing soundproofing experiments, and installing noise-free solutions. Now, she lives a quiet life free of the stress from noisy environments.

She hopes to share this knowledge so that others don’t have to endure the noise reigning in their ears and live a peaceful, stress-free life.