With the UK still under government restrictions in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more and more of us are now #WFH. For those who aren’t fluent in the language of hashtag, that translates to working from home. Rolling out of bed, sticking the kettle on and opening the laptop still pyjama-clad and stretching has become the new normal for many us and looks to be that way for the foreseeable future.
Even ‘when this is all over’ – the phrase we all keep using to reference the utopia of our post-COVID lives – working from home (or at least, remote working) will be something many businesses continue to embrace. Of course for freelancers and those self-employed, a nomadic way of working is already the norm and the home office is by no means a new concept. However, as the post-pandemic workplace evolves, it’s likely that a significant amount of office and PAYE employees will be jumping on the bandwagon too. With this in mind, the importance of setting up a comfortable and functional space to work at home becomes even more paramount. A huge part of this involves taking measures to improve acoustics and taking action against any excess noise that threatens your concentration, productivity levels or wellbeing.
The benefits of working from home are well documented in everything from educational thought-leadership articles to tongue-in-cheek memes on social media. Whether it’s the classic shirt on camera and slippers out of view ensemble, or having to shift a sleepy feline off your warm, humming keyboard at least three times a day, there’s no denying that working from home has its perks. Noise distraction, though, is one of the challenges you will need to face head-on if you think it could become problematic. If you’ve ever had to read the same sentence ten times because there’s a child screeching in the background, had to mute your mic on a video call to stop everybody hearing next door’s jamming session, or been defeated by your to-do list as a result of the din of daily life… these tips are for you.
Here’s how you can create more peace and quiet in your home office without having to break the bank, get an army of contractors in or completely reassemble your living quarters:
1. Get comfortable with some plush furniture and rugs
In the interior design world, one of the biggest trends right now is what those in the know have dubbed ‘resimercial’. It’s a combination of commercial functionality (desk, chair, technology etc) with softer, more domestic design elements such as cushions, rugs and soft furnishing. Not only are these residential features trend-focused, they’re also a great way to absorb unwanted sound. Soft furniture, plush rugs laid out on the floor and a scattering of cushions will all help dampen incoming sound vibrations, which is particularly beneficial in spaces with hard flooring and bare walls. This tip will help boost your concentration and up the cosy ante at the same time.
2. Get crafty with some canvas art for the wall
In the same way thick rugs will help stop sound reverberating from hard floors, acoustic canvas art will act as a great absorber for noise bouncing off your walls. To give your home office artwork acoustic credentials, simply get yourself some sound-absorbing fabric and decorate some canvases with it before hanging them up on the wall. Don’t be afraid to get creative with this – you want it to look great as well as helping soundproof the space.
3. Mend any cracks, holes or crevices in the walls
Those little repairs you’ve been putting off for years might just be the answer to all your excess noise-related problems. Patch up any holes in walls or doors to stop sound from other rooms travelling through. This can be done with little to no expense if you already have the items you need lying around in your shed and toolkit.
If you want to take this one step further, treat yourself to some acoustic foam too and stuff the back of the canvases with it and secure in place with hanging wire before mounting.
4. DIY a draft excluder to put in front of your door
The gap between the bottom of your door and the floor is most probably so small you barely even notice it but unfortunately, it’s enough to let sound travel pretty freely. Using a good old fashioned draft excluder or some rolled up towels in front of a closed door will help plug the gap and give unwanted noise the no entry warning.
5. What about some white noise?
If you don’t have walls to fill, doors to close or space to lay down rugs, we recommend downloading a good white noise app and playing the sound whenever you need to concentrate. The white noise will help drown out any noise distraction in the background and help you maintain razor-sharp focus.
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