Trying to stay productive in an open-concept office space can be tricky when you can’t help but hear what everyone around you is doing. Still, there are some ways to improve noisy office environments. In the past, I’ve written about how to soundproof work cubicles. Today, I thought we should discuss how you can use soundproof partitions or acoustic dividers to make the noise a bit easier to bear.
Obviously, as an employee of a company, you may not be in the position to just bring in your own soundproof partition. For one, it could be misconstrued as rude, and your colleagues may think that you’re distancing yourself from them. For another, you might not want to invest your own funds into improving your office space.
Well, you could always politely make a request to have soundproofing measures installed. If your company has a suggestion box or a similar way to make your ideas heard, you could try that. On the other hand, if you feel comfortable talking directly to your employer or whoever’s in charge of office supplies about this, you can also do that.
And of course, if you yourself are the employer in this situation, you may want to get soundproof partitions to make your employees calmer and more focused. In any case, I’m happy to report that you’ve come to the right place to get your information. I’ll share a few of my favorite products in this very articles. However, before I do, allow me to give you a quick rundown of what soundproof partitions and acoustic dividers even are.
When to Use Soundproof Partitions and Acoustic Dividers
Even without soundproofing properties, room dividers and partitions are both great ways to bring structure to an open space. From a purely decorative standpoint, partitions have been in use across cultures for centuries. However, they also have uses outside of the aesthetic ones, including:
- Privacy protection. Many people over the centuries have used partitions to clothe or bathe themselves. In the context of an office space, partitions are helpful because they would ensure that the employees aren’t disrupting each others’ work.
- Separating parts of the room by function. In an apartment, having a partition might be a great way to visually distinguish your sitting area from your dining area, even though they’re technically part of the same room. On the other hand, in an office space, partitions clearly distinguish various employee spaces.
- Directing foot traffic. In office spaces, more so than in living quarters, partitions can be really useful for making sure that employees and visitors aren’t trampling over workstations. Instead, room dividers can essentially serve to barricade the working areas from the walking areas.
All of these uses can be especially helpful inside of offices for many different reasons. For one, partitions keep disturbances at a minimum, helping to keep employees productive. They also make everyone feel more connected to their separate working areas.
Even if the employees don’t have their separate rooms, they can feel as though they have a private space all to themselves. Soundproof partitions, in particular, can be a really helpful way to fence off the break room, where most noises tend to originate from.
What to Expect from Acoustic Dividers
There are several different types of acoustic room dividers that can provide various levels of soundproofing. However, I should begin by saying that none of them will ever completely prevent you from hearing any sounds. After all, keeping the office reasonably quiet is something everyone working in it should strive towards.
Still, if you want the best results, you will have to completely close off the space you’re looking to soundproof. If you’ve been following my articles for a while, you probably know that, in order to truly soundproof a space, you need to make it airtight and also separate it from the building itself. That would remove airborne sounds, as well as impact noises. However, expecting to do this in an office space is hardly realistic.
But how can soundproof partitions help? Well, as I have mentioned, there are a few different types that will give you different results. Most of the products I’ll review today are temporary partitions that don’t cover the whole length of the space between the ceiling and the floor. However, I’ll also suggest a divider alternative that does cover the whole space.
So you can expect an acoustic room divider to dampen some of the noisiest sounds in the office. Additionally, it will also make it easier to work because you won’t have to watch your coworkers goof off. Or alternatively, your coworkers won’t be able to see you goofing off.
Features to Consider When Shopping for Soundproof Partitions
As always, before I get into my product recommendation, let’s go through some of the features you’ll want to consider before going shopping.
Assuming that you’re getting a soundproof partition for a specific purpose, you’ll want to decide on a divider size. None of the free-standing partitions I’ve come across completely cover the space between the ceiling and the floor. In fact, most are between 4 and 6 feet tall and about 5 or 6 feet wide.
Still, selecting the right size may be a crucial step in your shopping process. After all, you’ll want to get an effective product, but also one that lets you place it in just the right way. For this reason, getting different widths of a particular product might be a good idea. But of course, you need to measure out the space you’re working with and figure out a plan before you settle on a product.
Typically, you’ll want to have a soundproof partition that’s made of soft materials and fabrics like polyester or cotton. If you know anything about soundproofing, or at least improving the audio quality inside of rooms, you’ll know that soft materials are particularly good at absorbing sounds.
However, when it comes to office spaces and even homes, you should also consider the maintenance of a product. If you’d like to avoid having to watch your partition get dirtier every day, you may consider getting one that can be easily cleaned.
For example, I have a product on my list that’s made of laminate and Plexiglas, which are both flat and fairly hard surfaces. However, even this partition would work insofar as to provide another surface for the sound waves to bounce off of instead of spreading. And it would be easy to clean as well.
Since none of the partitions I’ll review are permanent ones, you’ll be able to set them up and move them as you see fit. Still, there are also various types of stands. When you’re looking for room dividers, you’ll see two types of stands.
Some partitions have regular stands you’d have to lift when you move them. These stands are usually metal, so they would cause some damage to your floors if you drag the partition
The second type of stand is rarer, but it allows you more freedom of movement. The room dividers which come with wheels, similar to the ones you’d see on swivel chairs, are easy to reposition.
Of course, the design may make or break a soundproof partition. Especially if you’re shopping for an office space, you want to make sure that the partition is attractive and professional-looking.
Well, all of the ones on my list are just that. In fact, some of they also come in multiple color options, so you can coordinate with your current office decor.
The Best Soundproof Office Partitions
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the products.
1. Refocus Acoustic Room Dividers
The ReFocus Acoustic Room Dividers come from a brand you should be familiar with. After all, they’re a pretty big player in the world of soundproof partitions and walls. So if you dig a little deeper, you’ll definitely find other partitions and even short desk dividers that are suitable for offices.
This particular product has a polyester core and outer fabric. Both parts are “post-consumer materials,” which means that the partitions are partially or entirely made of recycled polyester products. However, that’s not to say that it doesn’t do a great job at absorbing sounds. In fact, it should be able to absorb up to 85% of sounds that pass through.
Furthermore, the partition is available in two sizes. One of them is 2 by 5.5-feet, while the other is 6 feet wide instead of 2. Both sizes are essentially the same product zipped together. You could order as many of these as you’d like, and they’d all be attachable to each other.
Each 2-foot section has a T-stand on one side and a leg stand on the other. Even when you connect them into a longer wall, you can still move the joints and wrap them around a desk. What’s more, this partition is available in 5 classic colors, so you’ll be able to match them to the existing room decor.
- Polyester core and fabric wrap
- 5.5 feet tall and 2 feet wide
- Available in zippered groups of three
- Expandable and flexible
- 5 colors
2. VP6 Portable Acoustic Partition
These VP6 Portable Partitions may not come in as many colors as the previous product, but they’re certainly effective and convenient room dividers. The products consist of a 1.25-inch thick tubular steel frame and a dense black cotton fabric.
While the black fabric may look a bit extreme in most offices, it will certainly ensure complete privacy. Also, cotton is an excellent material for soundproofing, which is why these partitions should prove pretty effective.
The room divider is 6 feet long and 6 feet tall, and it can be set up in one of two ways. Firstly, you could simply rely on the T-shaped stands. However, it also comes with 3-inch swivel wheels you can slip onto the stands to make the partitions easier to move around. These wheels are also non-marking, so you won’t see black skids along the floor when you move the partitions.
Like most other products within this category, these partitions do require some assembling. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to do. Just push the metal frame together, then stretch the fabric across the frame, and Velcro it to the frame.
- Dense cotton fabric panels
- 6 by 6 feet
- Flat T-stand
- 3-inch non-marking swivel wheels
- Only black color
3. Hon Verse Panel
HON Verse Panel are some of the most professional-looking partitions I’ve found. The partitions have a solid base inside and are covered with a sound-absorbing fabric. While the light gray fabric may not be the most attractive option on the market, it’s certainly office-appropriate.
Besides, these partitions have plenty of other advantages. One of the bigger ones is the incredible range of sizes that are available. You can find this partition in three heights, including 3.5, 5, and 6 feet. And all of those heights come in various widths: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6 feet.
If you already know exactly what kind of space you’re working with, you can order the exact sizes you need to wrap around the desks. Better still, you’ll also get extras that match the frame of the dividers. So you’ll get wall brackets to screw the partitions to walls, straight and 90-degree panel connectors, as well as T-base stands.
The manufacturer even claims that the partitions are tackable. So if you have any important memos, you can just tack them onto the partition.
- Several heights and widths
- Round stands, with T-base extras
- Straight and 90-degree panel connectors
- Wall brackets
- Light gray color
4. At Work Laminate and Plexiglas Room Divider
If you’re looking for a room divider that can add some style to your office, this may be the one. Looking at this laminate and Plexiglas partition, you may not think that it would have effective sound dampening properties. However, in an open-concept office, these 1.77-inch thick dividers could only help.
These partitions definitely require assembly, though. Between the aluminum and steel frame and the five laminate and Plexiglas inserts, you’d have a bit of a project on your hands. If you’re shopping in bulk for your whole office, you may want to hire someone to assemble them.
However, you shouldn’t expect to be able to connect several of these partitions to each other. Instead, you can just position them next to each other and leave it at that.
Once everything is put together, you should have a frame with a 4-foot tall, 5-feet wide brushed nickel finish frame. The partition itself comes with tan or brown wood imitation laminate panels for the bottom and semi-transparent frosted Plexiglas for the top. The stands are semi-circular, which should provide added stability as well.
- Thick laminate and Plexiglas
- 4 feet tall by 5 feet wide
- Half-round stands
- Brown and tan laminate panel options
5. Soundproof Room Divider Curtains
Finally, you could also try installing room divider curtains. Whether you’re trying to section off a room in your home or create privacy around the office, curtains could add that much-needed personal touch.
They basically serve the same function as partitions. However, divider curtains fall from the ceiling an are long enough to brush against the floor, which is exactly what you need for soundproofing.
As I’ve explained in the article I linked to above, unlike soundproof curtains, room divider curtains have the same materials on both sides. That’s exactly what makes them appropriate for the office.
Something like these Rose Home Fashion room divider curtains would look great in an office space. You would have to have curtain rods installed on the ceiling, though, which may be a bit of a deal-breaker. Especially if you’re an employee, requesting that full-length curtains are installed might be a bit much.
On the other hand, if you’re a business owner considering how to divide the office space most effectively, this might be the way to go. Even if you buy simple partitions for the main working area of the office, I’d still recommend using room divider curtains to section off the break area.
Acoustic Partition Alternatives
If nothing else, adding fabric and soft materials has been proven to improve the acoustic quality inside of rooms. And since open-concept offices are particularly vulnerable to echoing, you might as well try to fill the space.
However, if the office decor isn’t exactly up to you, you could always just take care of your own space to the extent that you’re allowed to. Getting something like noise-canceling earplugs or a white noise machine could greatly reduce distractions and increase your productivity. And you could even use one with your headphones in, so as not to disturb your coworkers.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to make your work days as pleasant as possible. So I encourage you to look for soundproofing solutions that suit your needs and are permissible at your own office.