How to Soundproof Office Cubicle and Block Out Noise at Work

Working in an office cubicle can sometimes be challenging. Have you ever noticed in any brokers’ movie the way in which they communicate over the telephone underneath their own working desks?

That’s because sometimes, the only way to possibly reduce some background noise is by isolating yourself beneath your desk.

I have found myself in similar situations dozens of time! I’ve tried this trick, and it worked, for some time. However, I couldn’t keep hiding below the table whenever I was making a call, or just in a need of silence. 

That’s when I started searching for a real, permanent solution. Now, I will try to help you with a few simple solutions that I have tried myself, as well as other possible steps for soundproofing your office cubicle.

soundproof office cubicle

How to Soundproof Your Office Cubicle

1. Select the Right Furnitures

If you are in charge, or can somehow affect the furnishing selection, make sure that you choose the proper one.

Namely, if the furniture is made of surfaces which are hard and angular, do not get surprised if you hear some echo. With somewhat softer furniture, you might be able to decrease the noise bouncing from the walls, ceiling or even floor.

You can use plants, drapes, or furniture like bookshelves. They will all take a small part in noise reducing.

2. Lay Some Carpets

As I mentioned previously, you should not leave your walls, ceiling, and floor without a proper insulation.

When it comes to your flooring, the easiest way of insulation is by getting some carpet. Not only is it effective in preventing echoes, but it will also reduce the noise coming from ladies’ heels.

Keep in mind that adding a carpet to your cubicle only won’t do the job. Preferably, it should be added all over the office.

You can find some affordable office rugs in different sizes, and moreover,  carpeting can give a nice personal touch to your office.

3. Seal the Holes

One of the first things that you should do in your office cubicle is inspected for holes, gaps, and cracks. You probably wonder how can crevices be this relevant?

Well, they can. Even the smallest leaks will release the sound go through.

What you need to do is seal them with something like green glue.

Green glue is a soundproofing glue, that is mostly used for sealing. With its special sound-absorbing compounds, it will easily patch up any holes and crevices.

Apply it carefully since is really powerful substance. Make sure you are using your working gloves as well.

This is one is a simple, versatile, and cost-effective solutions to most of the noise problems. There is the following youtube video which will provide an instruction on how to apply green glue.

4. Attach Acoustic Panels

Preventing the noise and buzz from the rest of the office is very important, and walls being the biggest part of a cubicle office represent the greatest of problems in solving another, even bigger problem, that is the noise.

Acoustic panels are another something that you can easily do on your own, and it is not that expensive either. I mean, peace has no price, right?

Anyway, those acoustic panels are sponge-like blocks of material that can easily be attached to the walls (watch the following video for further instructions on how to do it yourself). They are soft and therefore they make it hard for the sound to bounce off of them like it would of any firm surface.

Here you can find some self-adhesive foam panels that should do the trick just fine: Best Acoustic Foam Panels and Buying Guide 

Once they are applied, you will be able to enjoy your new peace and quiet in your comfy little cubicle.

5. Extend Your Cubicle Walls

The higher your walls are, the better insulation they provide. However, you won’t be always able to upgrade the existing ones. One way could be buying room partitions and room dividers.

These mountable aluminum/steel walls are made for the purposes of an office environment. They will easily block the noise or reduce it to a minimum.

The problem with this one is the price. If you are not the boss, then I would not recommend this sort of solution since it’s too expensive.

Let’s say that this solution is more for bosses who are arranging their offices, rather than for workers who are employed in there.

As an alternative, you can use massive curtains. Of course, if your boss finds it civilly and approves it.

how to soundproof your office cubicle

6. Add Sound-Absorbing Curtains

Sometimes it can be hard or expensive to solve the problem by extending your cubicle walls.

The ceiling can be too high, this wouldn’t be in your area of responsibilities, or something similar. It would sure take a lot of effort and time to write to your HR department about it, and it is never sure that it will get solved even after you did.

However, there is something that you can do to help this problem get solved, and add a bit to the appearance of your own personal workspace.

There is something that is called a soundproof curtain.

These curtains are massive and very thick with a layer of soundproof material in them that would capture the annoying noise in its threads.

Additionally, the curtains are made of soft fabrics, and it would make it hard for the sound to jump around and bounce off of them so the echo will be canceled out.

These curtains can be hanged all the way from the ceiling and to the floor, or they can just overlap a bit with the cubicle walls.

It is up to your aesthetics, but you can find some very good soundproof wall-divider curtains and for a very reasonable price.

7. Get Better Headphones

Are you struggling to hear your telephone interlocutor due to office noise? No doubt then, you need a new set of headphones.

There are various types of headphones. You need to search for those that offer noise-canceling system and can simultaneously isolate you from the background noises.

So, you may ask: What is the noise-canceling system and how it works?

It is a headphones system which reduces all background, ambient sounds with so-called noise control. By capturing only your voice and ignoring background ambient sounds, this system will drastically improve your interlocutor’s overall impression of the conversation.

Shortly speaking, this system will reduce the noise that your interlocutor is hearing.

However, that is not enough. You need to be able to hear your interlocutor as well. For that, we recommend some soundproof/insulating headphones.

Soundproof headphones will isolate you from the noise coming from other office cubicles and you will be able to effortlessly communicate with your interlocutors.

As a compound of a great microphone noise-canceling system and soundproofing speakers, I can recommend you this Bluetooth headset as it has been serving me for a really long time with a great performance so far.

8. Use White Noise Machines

Even though these machines are mostly used to improve people’s sleep during the night, they can be used for soundproofing purposes of your cubicle as well.

You might wonder how these machines work.

Basically, these machines will not kill the background noise. You will still be able to hear it, but you won’t find it as distracting as it was before.

The machines release the sounds of neutral frequencies and in that way cover the background noise by putting your subconscious focus on their own non-disturbing sound.

Therefore, you will be able to productively and fully focus on your own job instead of on the noise coming from the outside.

White noise machines are not that expensive, and you just might be able to build your enjoyable working environment with this one.

White Noise Machines

9. Re-adjusting the Position of Workers

As a part of a team, you probably have your own group of people that you work with. There are several teams though, right?

Well, some of the teams are louder than the others. I guess that would be the selling/marketing team in most of the cases.

Here is one tip for you if you are the boss or someone that can make an influence on adjusting the office layout:

Keep the loudest teams as far as possible from the quiet ones. 

Otherwise, quiet ones will suffer something that’s called unpleasant work environment. This can drastically reduce the noise and increase the overall performance of the groups.

10. Raise Awareness to Cubicle Etiquette

So-called cubicle etiquette is a list of all the norms, rules of conduct that every employee should have subconsciously carved into one’s brain. These rules are like Bon- Ton, just for employees.

If you are the boss, or you are working in a company with cubicle offices, you should probably contact your HR, the boss, or whoever is in charge of this field to start some kind of raising awareness program related to the cubicle etiquette.

In fact, these are the simple rules of conduct that anyone with common sense should follow:

  • If you are listening to music, put headphones on.
  • When you want to start a conversation with some of your colleagues, do not talk through or over cubicles. Make a few steps and talk nicely and quietly.
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    Do not use speakerphones or any other way of communicating (conferences) that might interrupt/disrupt your colleagues.
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    Once you start working, at least mute your mobile phone, if you can’t turn it off.

Basically, with these simple rules of common sense applied, the working atmosphere will be raised to a new level.

On Soundproofing Office Cubicle

These are some of the easiest and the cheapest ways of protecting yourself from unwanted background noise. Some of them do require a bit more of your time and effort, but they’ll do the trick.

Nevertheless, if you fulfill all of these steps diligently, you should be able to secure yourself a nice soundproof environment.

If none of this works, there is an ultimate video guide on how to make a bunker.

All jokes aside, I hope that this article will make the things in your office a bit easier and your work time a little more enjoyable.

Working from home? Check out our guide on soundproofing your home office.