Working from home sounds like a good idea, alas, not everyone can grasp it. You see, there are a lot of people among your friends and family who will have a hard time understanding that just because you’re at home, this doesn’t mean that you’re available.
If you’re not living alone, people will often have a hard time adjusting to your working hours. This is made even more difficult by the fact that the majority of remote workers don’t have working hours to begin with.
While working throughout the day (in intervals) may be more convenient to you, it may be quite unfair to your roommates and family members. Why should they show restraint throughout the day just because you’re not disciplined enough to work through your shift while they’re away? Why should they tiptoe when they get home? Don’t they have enough of this at work?
Fortunately, by making a proper home office and ensuring that it’s soundproof, you’ll have a lot easier time balancing this. You will have the privilege of flexible working hours without having to impose too strict conditions on your housemates. With that in mind and without further ado, here’s how you can set up and soundproof a proper home office.
Why Sound Matters?
According to one survey, the majority of people lose focus on the main task when faced with a recurring noise in the background. The louder the noise, the higher the loss of attention. Does this mean that you’re not working? Of course not, however, it does mean that you’re not working at your full capacity, as well as that you’re more likely to make mistakes.
To make things worse, it seems that there’s no sound more distracting than the one that you’re trying not to hear. The problem is that while trying to suppress intrusive thoughts, you’re likely to experience a rebound effect. In other words, powering through the noise might be the worst possible idea.
Aside from this, overexposure to loud noises of this nature can increase your stress levels, thus deteriorating your mental health in the long run. It might even assist you in developing an aversion to your line of work.
Soundproofing on a Budget
One of the biggest problems with soundproofing is that it can be quite expensive. Still, this is not always the case and several methods can drastically reduce the noise in the room. First of all, even without touching anything in the room, you can invest in noise-canceling headphones. This will already make a world of difference.
Silent peripherals, in general, can make quite the difference and this method is not something you should discard before you’ve tried it.
You can also try to combat the noise with a different kind of noise (fight fire with fire). Recently, there’s been a significant increase in interest in white noise machines. These are devices that let out sounds that are more natural and soothing to mask the otherwise disturbing noise.
Foot traffic is another big problem here and the best way to mitigate this would probably be to place a rug in the room or just outside of the room. A stair runners rug in the hallway may make a world of difference and make the home office feel more acoustically isolated.
Sealing the cracks in the wall is another big item on the list. Sound doesn’t travel through barriers as well as it does in the open. So, if there’s a crack in the internal wall, the soundproofing of the room by other means might not be as effective.
Going for a heavy curtain (or curtain of any kind) will reduce the echo in the room. A smooth surface of a window reflects sound waves and by adding a curtain, you will transform this into a less reflexive surface. Same thing with mirrors. A nice touch for your decor but a bad idea for your home office.
Soundproofing through Renovation
If money is not an issue or you want to do the best possible soundproofing project for your home office, a renovation might be in place. You might want to start looking up the best soundproofing for walls and pick an option that’s suitable for your line of work and the volume of your neighborhood.
Keep in mind that turning your home office into a recording studio and doing your best to keep the outside noises outside might not be the same thing. This will affect your remodeling budget as well as the scope of work that has to be done. The installation of acoustic panels, for instance, is a low-effort job that doesn’t require that much investment in time or money.
If you have the misfortune of having your home office situated below another inhabited room, you might have to soundproof your ceiling, as well. Sure, getting a thicker rug for the room above also helps but the amount of noise that you might be facing would surprise you. This is also why more and more remote workers prefer to move their home office to a loft.
A soundproof door can be a tad more expensive of an investment, especially because the majority of people go for low-end options when it comes to choosing interior doors. Still, if you want to make the room soundproof, there’s no going around it.
Lastly, some flooring options are quieter than others. Sure, you can go with an area rug or a wall-to-wall carpet but there are other ways to get there, as well.
In the end, the truth is that you should never underestimate the impact of noise on your work. Keep in mind that there are so many studies out there to prove it. However, chances are that you already know all of this intuitively. Working in a safe, quiet environment simply provides you with a quieter workspace. Also, now that you know that you can handle it all on a budget, things should become a lot simpler. With a simple change of headphones and a new curtain, you can already do a lot. Still, why stop there?