How to reduce noise in an open plan office

This year has had a significant impact on how office-based businesses operate. While many staff continue to work remotely, there are workforces across the country who are still travelling into the office.

With many office desks still in use, and this likely to increase as restrictions lift, do you find yourself distracted by unwanted office noise? The open plan office design embraced by small businesses and larger enterprises across the country can come at a price – unwanted distractions, noise, and reduced productivity.

If you’re finding noise a problem at your place of work, we’ve compiled several tips on how to reduce noise in an open plan office.

Do you have an office noise problem?

It may seem peculiar, but in many cases, office staff alongside managers and business owners are often unaware that they have a noise problem in their office.

Employees have varying tolerance and sensitivity levels to background noise, which will also change depending on the task at hand and the level of concentration required.

Noise is defined as unwanted sound and can take several forms:

  • Conversational noise: This type of noise includes conversations while the kettle boils, at the water cooler, meeting and breakout areas and colleagues having telephone conversations. Conversational noise can be highly distracting and, once multiplied across a large open-plan office, can become intolerable.
  • Machinery noise: From photocopiers to scanners, kettles and printers to dishwashers, offices are often filled with tech that often causes unwanted noise.
  • External noise: If your office is based next to a workshop, factory, garage or other business working environments, this can lead to further distractions. This kind of acoustic noise disturbances can prevent clear-thinking, decision-making and lead to decreased productivity.

To help protect office workers and reduce unwanted noise, try our handy tips below.

Office screens

Office screens, when placed cleverly, are an effective way to deflect and successfully break up noise in an open plan office.

There are countless office screens available, in a variety of sizes and colours to match your office décor, company branding and preferences. Floor standing partitions also add flexibility, particularly if in the future you relocate to different premises or if your office has a move around.

Desk Mounted Screens Main

Embrace nature

Getting your green-fingered colleagues to help choose office plants is a great way to help reduce open office noise. Plants not only look bright and add a pop of colour and greenery to your office space, but they will help reduce noise, too.

You could even look into having an eye-catching living wall to bring the outdoors in and deflect plenty of distracting noise.

Office with plants blocking noise

Isolating equipment

As we mentioned above, machinery noise can lead to lower productivity in the office. Items like printers and photocopiers are not only noisy, but can naturally become a place where colleagues congregate, which can lead to conversation and increased noise disturbances. Isolate this noisy equipment into one area and ensure it is partitioned from the main office. This will help to significantly reduce noise levels.

Mobile curved screens

Dedicated quiet spaces

In open plan office, as in any workplace, it is important to have a dedicated quiet place. Whether this is to focus on a tricky piece of work, have a private meeting or take a personal call, a dedicated calm place where staff can concentrate will help boost productivity, wellbeing and reduce noise in the main office area.

Discover our wide range of stylish breakout seating here.

Wyspa acoustic pod

Sound friendly furniture

When choosing office furniture for the open plan space, opting for high backed benches or enclosed booths will act as effective room separators and reduce noise.

Office pods are also an effective and stylish way to significantly reduce noise, add privacy and keep distractions to a minimum.

High Back Acoustic Seating

Divide spaces with acoustic panels

Dividing an office space with acoustic panels is a great way to reduce office noise. The panels can also be used to segregate different areas of the office. There are some great looking panel designs that can improve the look of an office while dampening the nose.

Allsfar Lull suspended acoustic panels

Suspended acoustic ceiling panels

While additional office screens and soft furnishings may seem like the obvious remedy to a noisy open plan office, the ceiling is often overlooked as solution to decreasing noise. Acoustic ceiling panels, suspended for an the existing ceiling can offer a great looking option to further reduce sound.

Acoustic ceiling panels are available in an exciting range of designs that provide visual interest to often dull looking ceilings. These panels are easily retro-fitted to ceilings (and suspension kits are included). Bespoke sizes are available to fit within any office space.

Allsfar leaf ceiling acoustic panels

Decorative acoustic wall shapes

Decorative wall mounted acoustic panels are a great way to add some colour to an open plan office while reducing noise. Modern wall panels are lightweight and easy to install with the use of heavy duty Velcro strips. The wall shapes can be mixed and matched to create unique patterns and finishes.

Multi-coloured decorative acoustic shapes reducing noise on an office wall

Office layout planning

If you are hoping to reduce the amount of noise in your open plan office, it is imperative that the above ideas are carefully considered, thought out and executed to maximise their benefits.

To ensure minimal noise disruption and increased productivity is achieved by your workforce in the changes you implement, office layout planning is essential.

At BT Office Furniture we have our own in-house office space planning and design department, complete with expert 2D space planners and 3D visual artists. Contact us today to demonstrate how we can transform you open plan office to reap the rewards for your entire workforce while keeping up with the latest office furniture trends.

Why choose BT Office Furniture?

BT Office has been a leading UK office furniture supplier since 1994. We use our own fleet of vehicles and team of specialist fitters to ensure your modern and executive office furniture arrives undamaged and is installed by people who are familiar with the products.

If you’re looking to reorganise your open plan office and increase staff productivity, check out our full range of furniture today for inspiration or contact our expert team who are on hand and happy to help with your enquiry.