For knowledge workers, working from home has many advantages. You no longer need to worry about your morning commute, you can dress as casually as you want, and you have the flexibility to take care of personal errands as required. What a great idea.
However, there are downsides. Workers are co-located in an office space to facilitate teamwork and collaboration. Working remotely provides a challenge but video conferencing and using tools such as MS Teams and Zoom make it easier. Typically, your work environment is free of distractions to ensure you stay focused on work tasks. Sometimes working from a home office can be a challenge to find a quiet space to actually do your work, conduct conference call meetings, or even just talk to a team member on the phone.
From a soundproofing perspective, how can you make your home office a quiet workspace? Here are two ideas.
- Separate yourself from the distractions.
Close your office door and seal the leaks around the door using a door seal kit. In simple terms, a 1% opening around and under your door allows 50% of the sound outside the door to come into your office space. Nothing is more distracting when you are on conference call than hearing dogs bark, children playing, or doorbells ringing. Adding a door seal to your home office is a DIY project. It will seal the leaks and block these outside noises from becoming a distraction. This is a $200 or less fix. One caveat, it works best with a solid wood door. You may want to replace that hollow door first.
- Treat the home office space to reduce echo.
Have you ever been on a conference call where the echo from the person talking on the far end made their communication unintelligible? Think about how your voice sounds to your team members and customers as you work from your office. To solve this problem, you need to add absorptive acoustic material to the walls.
The most cost-effective approach to this problem is to hang fabric wrapped wall panels (FWPs) on your office walls. Typically, these panels have a fiberglass core material that absorbs sound waves, reducing echo in the room. You need to add enough material to the walls to make a difference. A rule of thumb is to add 40% of the floor space to the walls. So, if you have a 12’ X 12’ office, purchase 60 sq ft of FWPs to hang on your walls. This a $500 fix but the people you are speaking to will thank you for it.
Here is a bonus idea, instead of hanging a standard FWP, you can install art panels on your office walls. These panels provide the same acoustical results, but the fiberglass is wrapped in an acoustically transparent printed image. This image could be a photo that you provide or other digital images that make the room not only sound better but also look better.