How to Soundproof Office Cubicles for a Quieter Work Environment

The biggest issue you face working in an office with cubicles is trying to focus when normal workplace noises keep distracting you. 

Sounds travel through the air and get to you easily in a cubicle setting.

For more on how sounds travel check out our in-depth post, how does sounds travel.

An easy approach to blocking or reducing these sounds is to look for different ways to soundproof office cubicles.

Some of these can be done by you and the others you’ll need permission from your boss.

Employers, you can also implement these cubicle noise solutions and increase productivity. 

Additionally, some of these ways may answer questions on how to soundproof a home office.

The 19 best ways to soundproof office cubicles

1. Lay some carpet

Laying down some carpet is a simple solution to achieve a soundproof cubicle. 

Hard flooring in the office allows sounds to reflect and create echoes which can be quite irritating. 

If you’ve ever heard the clickety-clack of high heels on the hardwood floor, you know exactly what I am talking about. 

While putting down a throw rug in the cubicle reduces these sounds, try laying carpet throughout the office.

  • Sound absorbing
  • BCF Polyester
  • Easy to install

The All American carpet tiles are made from BCF Polyester.

It features a self-adhesive backing that makes installation easy.

The tiles resist soil and stains due to the Scotchgard protector while the backing is treated with an antimicrobial agent.

These carpet tiles measure 23.5 x 23.5 x 0.25 inches and come in a carton of 9.

If installing carpet throughout the office proves too expensive, lay carpet runners in the hallways and walkways.

  • High-quality nylon
  • Non-slip rubber backing
  • Stain-resistant and shed-free pile

The Ottomanson runner is made from high-quality nylon with a non-slip rubber backing for optimal skid resistance.

It is ideal for use in high traffic areas since it is stain resistant and features a shed free pile to serve you for many years to come.

Maintaining the runner is easy, spot clean with mild soap or detergent, and vacuum regularly.

The Ottomanson runner weighs 6.30 pounds and measures 120.00 x 31.00 x 0.20 inches.

2. Attach acoustic panels 

The walls in your cubicle are another source of cubicle noise. 

To reduce the amount of sound coming from walls, you can attach some acoustic panels to them.

Acoustic panels are soft sponge-like blocks that are attached to the walls to absorb sounds.

Due to their soft nature, acoustic panels which make it hard for sounds to bounce off them like they would on hard surfaces.

  • Reduces sound waves, reverb, and flutter echo
  • 3D Pyramid acoustic design
  • Flame retardant

The Little-Lucky acoustic panels feature a 3D pyramid design that can reduce sound waves, reverb, and flutter echo in small to mid-sized rooms like your office cubicle.

These panels are made up of environmentally friendly and flame-retardant polyurethane foam to reduce any danger and ensure safety at all times.

Cleaning them is easy and requires regular vacuuming or dusting.

They are available in a wide array of colors and design and come in a pack of 12 with each measuring 12 x 12 x 2 inches.

3. Add softer types of furniture

Avoid metal cabinets and furniture with hard surfaces as they will enable sounds to bounce around and create an echo.

Choose furniture with a soft finish like couches and lounge chairs.

Although they won’t fully soundproof your cubicle, they will reduce some of the noise you experience.

4. Heighten your cubicle walls

To create an effective office sound barrier, raise the height of the walls separating the cubicles

However, this is easier said than done and can be quite expensive.

In cases where it is not possible to do so then you can consider buying new wall partitions.

Look for partitions with a high NRC rating to stop sounds from coming through. 

  • NRC rating: 0.85
  • Expandable
  • Recycled materials

These acoustic room dividers greatly reduce noises in today’s open office environment.

They have an NRC rating of 0.85 which means it reduces as much as 85 percent of the noises that pass through them.

They are made from recycled material and perfect for supporting pinned accessories and documents.

Use them individually or zip them together to cover a larger area.

The divider is flexible and can create a secluded spot for isolating yourself when concentration is needed.

office sound barrier room divider

5. Soundproof wall divider curtains

In instances where adding height to existing walls is impossible and buying wall partitions is expensive, you can hang some wall divider curtains.

These curtains are made thick and feature a noise-absorbing layer to minimize sounds by trapping them in its fibers.

They are hung from ceiling to floor and can overlap cubicle walls.

  • Absorbs sounds
  • 100% polyester
  • Triple weave technology

The RYB home office divider curtain is made from 100% high quality, durable polyester.

It features triple weave technology that blocks out light, blocks sound, and insulates during winter and summer months.

The soft nature of the curtain will not allow sounds to bounce around your cubicle but rather absorb the sounds and stop them in their tracks.

The office divider measures W 180 x L 108 inch and features 16 1.6 inch grommets on the top.

6. Seal gaps and cracks

If you find that even after soundproofing your cubicle walls, noise is still coming through, it may be because there are unsealed gaps, holes, or cracks.

Sounds travel through the air and anywhere that air passes, the sound does too.

To seal holes you can choose to fit pieces of acoustic foam like the one mentioned above.

On the other hand, to seal any gap, or crack in your cubicle wall, use acoustic caulk.

This type of caulk differs from regular caulk in that they remain pliable for many years and do not shrink, crack, or harden.

They usually have an STC rating, the higher the rating, the better the noise-reducing properties.

  • Adds up to 9 STC points
  • Stays pliable
  • Affordable

Green Glue is the most effective and affordable sealants on the market for any soundproofing project.

This sealant has been independently tested and has an STC rating of 56 in a drywall/single stud wall.

Using over an existing wall, Green Glue adds up to 9 STC points and blocks out both airborne and impact noises.

It can be used for finishing touches and sealing sound leaks in your cubicle walls.

7. Place some acoustic tiles on the ceiling

Cubicle soundproofing involves tackling the floor, the walls, and the ceiling. 

To know more about how soundproofing works, read up on how does soundproofing work.

Most ceiling tiles provide another hard surface for sounds to bounce off of and for this reason you need to cover up that surface.

For a cheap and easy way use the same acoustic panels previously mentioned and the noise level in your cubicle will be greatly reduced.

8. Change the layout of the office

This is a tip for an employer that has an open office plan with cubicles.

If you have employees who are required to do different tasks, it’s best to group them according to task type. 

If one team is required to be on the phone all day, then it’s best to put them in one corner of the room away from those that need the quiet to concentrate. 

If possible use room dividers to block the groups from each other so they can all get their work done without bothering each other.

Furthermore, if your office uses various noisy office machinery like printers and copiers, it’s best to place it in a corner where it won’t be annoying to others. 

9. Install a door if you can

Most times, cubicles would not have enough space for you to install a door.

Besides, if the walls aren’t high enough, it makes no sense.

However, let’s say your walls run from floor to ceiling and the entrance to your cubicle has enough space, then having a door put in is a great choice.

10. Insulate cubicle windows

If your cubicle happens to be next to a window, then you’ll need to insulate that window.

You can either use the acoustic sealant, Green Glue that we mentioned or use weather stripping tape.

You simply use the sealant or tape around the perimeter of the window to block out sounds.

  • Sound insulation
  • Weatherproof
  • Flame resistant neoprene material

The Magzo Store window foam seal tape provides great sound insulation from outdoor noises.

The tape is made from a flame-resistant neoprene material with a closed-cell design.

It is also weatherproof, dustproof, shock-absorbing, and provides heat insulation in the colder months.

Featuring a strong adhesive backing, use the tape around your windows to seal any gaps and cracks.

The tape is 1/2 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick and 16.5 feet long.

11. Place some noise-insulating plants in your cubicle.

Liven up your cubicle space with some plants that can isolate noise.

Not only can some of these plants isolate noise but can also purify the air in your cramped cubicle space.

Some of the best plants are:

  • Peace Lily – the leaves of this plant are wide enough to absorb sound waves.
  • Rubber Plants – they have extra-wide leaves that are thick to block out noise.
  • Weeping Figs – this plant has board and arching branches that subdue sounds. They also purify the air. 

12. Educate on and raise awareness about office cubicle etiquette

If you are an employer who has been dealing with noise complaints, then it may be time to educate your employees on cubicle etiquette.

Cubicle etiquette can be anything from drastic measures like no talking during a set time or simply asking employees to use a headphone when listening to audio.

Put forward the rules in such a way that it does not come off as harsh.

Try to implement them in such a way that everyone will understand where you are coming from.

13. Use a noise-canceling headphone

If all else fails, then invest in a noise-canceling headphone.

With advanced technology at our fingertips, the market is flooded with these types of devices.

These devices are also helpful when you are on the phone as they cancel out the noise so you can hear what the person on the other end is saying.

They are the perfect cubicle noise reduction device.

  • 45 hours of play time, 10 min charge
  • Lightweight
  • CVC6.0 Microphone

Say goodbye to disruptive and focus on your work or call with the Mpow Noise Cancelling headphones.

These noise-canceling headphones feature a built-in microphone for ensuring crisp clear calls.

A key point to note is that the mic only works on Bluetooth mode.

It has a built-in 650mAh battery with a fast-charging function.

The noise-canceling headphone is lightweight with super-soft air pads for maximum comfort.

It also has adjustable swiveling ear cups and a foldable headband for a customized fit.

14. Use a white noise machine

Unlike noise-canceling headphones, white noise machines cover up the distracting sounds.

White noise machines emit noises of neutral frequencies that allow your subconscious to focus on that noise instead of those coming from others in the workplace.

They are mainly used in the bedroom for people who have a hard time falling or staying asleep.

However, they seem to work well in a cubicle setting.

15. Dedicated quiet spaces

If you have an extra office or meeting room that is not in use most of the time, then you can turn it into a dedicated quiet space.

Anyone from a cubicle that requires some quiet to work can utilize this space until their task is finished or until you need the room.

16. Dedicated loud spaces

If your workplace encourages discussions and interactions, then keep those spaces away from the rest of the offices.

In these loud spaces, employees are free to talk and be reasonably loud if they are on the phone or talking to each other.

17. Talk to your employer

Sometimes simply talking to your employer and telling him you need some quiet to work may help.

Explain to him that to do certain tasks you need to concentrate.

This will help you and your employer to discover a middle ground.

18. Step out to a quieter area

If nothing is done to soundproof your cubicle and you need to make a phone call, it may be best to move to a quieter area in the office.

This may not be ideal if you need to access your workstation while on the phone with a client.

This solution is more suitable if you need to make a personal call so that you do not disturb others.

19. Create a system that allows others to know you require silence.

If you have a cubicle door or screen, closing it can send the message that you do not want to be disturbed.

Moreover, placing a sign that states something like you are trying to finish a task by a certain time can deter others from being too loud around your cubicle.

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