Working from home has its benefits but it also comes with its own set of challenges.
One of the most common issue is background noise, which can be a distraction and make it difficult to focus on work. It’s important to find a solution that works for you, as everyone’s needs and preferences are different. Experiment with different methods until you find the one that works best for you and your home office environment.
In this guide, we will explore some practical and effective ways to reduce background noise in your home office, so you can stay productive and focused.
One of the most common complaints I hear from those people working from home is the amount of background noise that can interrupt workflow and cause frustration. Too much noise in the home office can make people dislike working from home. And it should be like that.
But in order to fix something, you need to find the source of your problems. Start by writing down any noises that might be bothering you or interrupting your workflow.
You can take action to reduce the noise by finding ways to soundproof the area or move to quieter locations while you work. Identifying sources of noise when working from home like passing traffic and construction machinery outside your window or even just the sound of other people talking is important. If it is constanly in the background can become overwhelming and impede productivity.
But try and identify it and see – or hear – if it is something you can do something about.
Take a moment now to sit quietly and reflect on what sounds are affecting you.
Write them down and list ways you can stop them.
Use Soundproof Materials in your home office
Working from home can offer many benefits, including flexibility and cost savings, but background noise when working from home can be so annoying that it’s almost impossible to concentrate on work.
One of the best ways to reduce the background noise while working in your home office is by using soundproofing materials. There are many soundproofing materials on the market today. Most of these products are readily found online, while a few are more specialized and will require a special order.
Soundproof materials help absorb or block sound waves and these materials come in many forms such as
- Acoustic Foam – This material, commonly called Studio Foam, has a distinctive wedge or pyramid shape that is highly effective at absorbing sound. They attach to walls as panels, hang from ceilings as baffles, or sit in corners as bass traps.
- Sound Insulation – Sound insulation is batts made of mineral wool, rock wool and fiberglass, designed to fit in between the studs of walls. The batts fit snugly between studs to take up airspace that can transmit sound.
- Acoustic Panels/Boards – These are decorative versions of sound insulation and sound absorbing foam. They are available in many appealing colors, patterns and fabrics to serve a dual purpose in the home and workplace.
- Acoustic Fabrics – Acoustical fabrics are thicker and heavier than other fabrics and are used in theater curtains, blackout curtains, and studio blankets.
- Acoustic Coatings – Materials like Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is a dense rubber-like materials, used in many different situations such as car soundproofing, machinery, appliances and as underlayment. The mass of the material acts as a sound barrier.
- Floor Underlayment – Soundproofing a hardwood or tile floor requires the decoupling of the flooring surface and the subfloor to reduce noise transmission. Cork rolls, felt and polymers are commonly used as underlayment materials.
- Architectural Soundproofing – This group includes anything used in the structure of a building, such as soundproof windows, soundproof walls, doors, and decoupling products used to install them.
Soundproofing a room is a lot like trying to waterproof the hull of a boat. The tiniest gap can let the water in. Soundwaves come in different pitches and frequencies which allows some to travel a longer distance or to be more pervasive and difficult to ignore.
High-pitched sounds have more soundwave oscillations and the eardrum perceives them as louder than a lower-pitch sound, making them harder to block out. Children’s voices and small yapping dogs are especially piercing and difficult to ignore.
Lower frequency sounds will travel a longer distance like the low hum of a motorway or the deep thud of bass drums can be heard for a long distance.
Sound can also be transmitted through objects. If you have ever tried putting a glass to a wall you can clearly hear the sound from the other side.
Soundproofing on a budget
If you’re on a budget and prefer a DIY approach these ideas may help. Soundproofing a room will have the best results if you use a combination of approaches.
- Making sure that your doors and windows are properly sealed will help contain noise or keep your room quiet.
- One of the best ways to stop sound from traveling from room to room is by positioning large items of furniture against adjoining walls. Large built-in bookshelves full of books can dampen considerable noise from neighbors. Built-in wardrobes full of clothing will create a void and absorb sound in the soft materials.
- Wooden shutters act like a sound barrier and can make a big difference to block external noise from a window.
- Specialist sound-dampening curtains are made from dense fabric and have a combination of layers to reduce sound transmission through a window.
- Filling the space with large objects of soft furnishing also helps to dampen noise. Think about how footsteps can echo in an empty room and voices can amplify in the space. Use sofas, chairs and large wall hangings to dampen sound.
- Rugs and carpets. Placing rugs and carpets in rooms with hard surfaces, such as kitchens and bathrooms can also help to absorb vibrations and prevent them from bouncing around and amplifying in a room. They can also help to absorb any impact vibrations from traveling through the floor and deaden sounds coming through it.
- Thick wallpapers can help to deaden noise but they won’t make much difference on significant noise.
- Old wooden floors can be especially difficult. Simply nailing down boards can help. As an extra measure, taking up the floorboards and filling gaps with specialist sheets of thick polystyrene or rock wool insulation can help to deaden the sound transfer.
- Check all electrical sockets and door frames to make sure they’re fully sealed with specialist caulk to reduce sound leakage through micro gaps.
- Strategically planted shrubs and hedges between a room, window, and a road or a neighbor’s house can have a surprising sound-dampening effect.
- Plants can also take the brood of the background noise, especially big plants.
Earphones and Headphones can work wonders to avoid background noise
As we all adjust to the new normal of working from home, one challenge that many people are struggling with is persistent background noise.
Fortunately, investing in a good pair of earphones or headphones can help reduce this noise and create a more conducive environment for productivity.
Earphones and headphones not only provide sound insulation but also offer an immersive listening experience.
High-quality headphones allow you to work uninterrupted while blocking out any external distractions that may be present in your household.
Not only do earphones and headphones provide distraction-free work environments, but they also offer users the opportunity to customize their listening experience. Many headphones come equipped with active noise canceling technology which works to further reduce background noise while still allowing you to enjoy zoom calls or podcasts without interruption.
Additionally, White Noise Machines can be helpful
White noise machines can be an effective tool in providing relief from background noise that distracts and disrupts productivity. These devices generate a sound that masks other noises, creating a more peaceful environment in which to focus and concentrate.
Many models come with adjustable sound levels so you can find the right balance of sound that works best for your needs. White noise machines are actually also popular for babies as it makes them relax. If you work from home with a newborn, maybe that could help you focus more.
They also provide therapeutic benefits such as relaxation and improved sleep quality, making them ideal for both work environments and bedrooms alike.
A study found that white noise can improve cognitive performance, particularly in tasks that require attention and memory. The study found that participants who were exposed to white noise performed better on attention and memory tasks compared to those who were not exposed to white noise.
White noise machine apps that generate a low-level sound, like a fan or rain, to help mask other sounds that may interfere with concentration are ideal.
The continuous sound produced by these machines reduces the perception of intermittent noises such as loud music playing next door or street traffic outside the window. This allows users to focus on their tasks with fewer distractions.
White noise machines are typically simple to use and require minimal setup.
Additionally, they are often small enough to travel with if needed and many models run on USB chargers or power batteries so you don’t need an outlet nearby.
If nothing works: Move to a quieter room
With children running around and neighbors playing loud music, it can be hard to focus on the task at hand. If nothing works to reduce the background noise when working from home and you can’t concentrate, try relocating to a quieter room.
What is the best area in your home that has less foot traffic or fewer distractions?
Choose a room with thick walls or fewer windows that close tightly – all of these elements can help reduce sound levels significantly. If you’re able, you could work outside on a patio or balcony if the weather permits.
When all else fails, remember that remote work doesn’t necessarily need to be done at your home. Grab your laptop and use flexible work arrangements to your advantage.
On occasions when there has been construction work next door or in my case, my neighbor’s three puppies barking continuously, I simply moved my workspace out of the home and to my favorite work cafe.
You can do the same. If your home isn’t quiet enough to work from and there is no way to fix it then work away from your home.
Conclusion: How to reduce background noise when working from home
To sum up, Use these tips we’ve discussed in the article to create an environment that is conducive to productivity and focus. Invest in soundproofing options and noise-canceling headphones, try a white noise machine or app, and rearrange your workspace by adding noise-dampening furnishings.
These solutions are easy to implement and are cost-effective for any budget.
Taking these steps will create a quiet, comfortable workspace where you can focus on your tasks without distractions.
My name is Frederik
I am a passionate marketeer who loves the freedom that comes with working from home whenever I choose to do so.
I love getting nerdy with every single detail about making everything related to my home just a tiny bit better.
That is what motivates me to write about home stuff on this blog.