How to Create a Serene Office Environment

How to Create a Serene Office Environment

Why Does Creating a Serene Office Environment Matter?

Your office space is where you spend at least a third of your day, and with that, comes various challenges. Whether it’s the colleague who wants to tell you in minute detail about their weekend argument with their mother-in-law, or the person sitting opposite you - who you KNOW is stealing your candy from the jar in your desk drawer, your colleagues provide a unique window into human existence.

It’s important to work in an atmosphere that is conducive to well . . . work . . . and frequently this isn’t the case.

What are the reasons for a less than pleasant working day? Well, some of the other issues that crop up in shared workspaces include cleanliness, hygiene, and lack of good decorating (hello, bare magnolia walls, and trite motivational messages). However, one of the most overlooked issues when trying to create a serene office environment is that of noise - or rather, the balance between too much and not enough.

Phones ring, people chat - meetings happen. There’s noise from the cleaners and workmen who come in. If you have a shared kitchen space, that might create a lot of sound. You might have colleagues who insist on having the radio set to ‘VeryLoudUndergroundRave FM’ (though HR might have something to say about that). Either way, it’s a lot of aural clutter to contend with, and that can make an already crammed workday feel distinctly overwhelming.

These days we’re all becoming more aware of sensory overload - particularly from noise - and how it can affect us. Many people invest in noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs to provide an escape from too much aural overload. In an office space, it might be practical to wear things like this some of the time, but not always - so what can workplaces do to make everything sound calmer and quieter?

Practical Noise Reduction Ideas

What can be done, in practical terms, to reduce noise in office spaces? For one, if you have issues with noise through shared walls or even coming from outside, installing the right soundproofing materials can make a huge difference to the immediate environment to make the room quieter, more comfortable, and distraction free.

Improving the overall acoustics of an office is one of our most requested office treatments, necessary for improving focus and speech intelligibility by deadening the office with the use of products such as acoustic panels or acoustic blankets to reduce reverberation time.

Workers still need to be able to chat, move around freely, and make some noise, but changing the sound dynamic in a room can make all the difference in how well people can tolerate different volumes.

For more on office soundproofing, check out our article as we dive into the do's and don'ts and the how-to's of it all!

Work Space Optimization Experts

You’ve heard how we can help create quieter, more serene office spaces with our technology, but we thought it would be a great idea to ask some experts in their field for great, practical ideas to help create a calmer and quieter workspace. Here’s what they had to say:

Can creating a private space Help?

“It's still important to give people the "luxury of choice" when it comes to working collaboratively and having privacy.

"In order to thrive in a workplace environment, we need to offer team members the luxury of choice. Our needs within a typical workday will vary greatly. We will need spaces to do focused work, but we will also need places to socialize and collaborate. A healthy workspace will provide for all types of activities," Albarrán says. Offering private phone booths or focus rooms is an easy way to provide the privacy people crave without taking up a ton of space. And if they aren't offered at your place of work, it's worth finding a way to create a makeshift personal space.

Lira de la Rosa agrees, explaining that managers need to consider their varied staff and each of their individual needs. "Some employees need time to recharge, and [privacy] can help them feel calm," Lira de la Rosa says. "So it may be important to have a mix of office spaces so that employees have options.”

Alejandra Albarrán and Ernesto Lira de la Rosa speaking to Stacey Leasca for Real Simple

Is there any benefit to music in the office?

Turn on the tunes. Science supports the benefits of music. Depending on the tune, music can be mentally stimulating, calming, or even rejuvenating. Experiment to determine which types of music help you work best. Doing mindless filing? Choose a tune that picks you up. Focusing on a creative task? Choose lyric-free ballads. But remember: no matter what you choose, the tunes should make you feel good.”

Bethany Thayer for Henry Ford Health

What is one top tip for keeping an office space calm if it can't be quiet?

“Keep your workspace clean and organized. “A supervisor of mine from several years ago recently sent me a photo of me in my cubicle,” Foss says. “I was horrified by how messy and disorganized it looked. And I recall vividly how challenged I was by the mess. Mess equals stress.”

For many people, it’s difficult to focus when their desk is filled with papers, phone messages, business cards, magazines and newsletters, especially when the layers are inches high, Kousek says. “It’s the same with e-mail inboxes with thousands of messages. There’s always that thought, What’s buried in there that will come back to haunt me? What have I forgotten to do?”

A complete filing system and storage space can help you to organize your office in such a way where everything is in place and easy to reach for work.”

Jenny Foss and Susan Kousek speaking to Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes

How can sensory experiences be customized to fit different workplace cultures, ensuring both productivity and employee well-being?

“These days, it's more important than ever to encourage the well-being and engagement of your employees, especially those who work in the office. Sensory Marketing can contribute to a welcoming, comfortable and exciting work environment. For instance, scent marketing creates a branded layer that's pleasant and can actually increase productivity. Video marketing can be a source of employee pride when it's used to showcase your team's great work. And audio marketing is an effective tool for sharing good news and important reminders.

Jon Marker, Director of SensoryMax

Could you explain some of the health benefits associated with having green spaces or floral arrangements in office settings?

“There are many benefits to adding green plants to an office space. Not only do they add aesthetics to the space, they aid in increased productivity, creativity and help reduce stress. Certain plants improve air quality by removing harmful air pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene and xylene which reduces the rate of sick building syndrome (SBS) that can impact the productivity of employees.”

Pam Classey, Asst. General Manager of Cary Florist

Could you discuss the importance of having a dedicated, peaceful space for brainstorming and developing new concepts or projects?

“My days and nights are over-flowing with the cacophonous buzz of multi-tasking efficiency. Oddly, I find joy in a day oozing with last minute appointments and unscheduled phone calls and overdue tasks. It keeps me thinking on the fly and makes the work day fun! However, when it's time to ditch the distractions and think long and deep about a new concept for a client or to develop an innovative entertainment project, I need to slow my brain frequency so I can visualize the big picture. The only way I can accomplish that successfully is to have a dedicated space in my home where it's quiet, peaceful and meditative. This is when I am able to gather my collective thoughts and focus on one objective."

Steve Weindorf, President of All-Star Entertainment

How do you maintain an organized and calming atmosphere in an office for maximum productivity?

“To me, work productivity is about minimizing distractions, having a place for everything, and being very intentional with what I have out and visible. My to do list, a notebook, and laptop is all I really need. Everything else can be filed away in a drawer. Electronic organization is important, too, so I keep it simple with a folder system for all my files. With these things in place (and clutter kept at bay), that desired calm atmosphere will be the natural outcome.”

Katie Riedel, Owner of Making Space Organization 

What are some effective strategies individuals can use to alter their surroundings to enhance productivity and organization?

“I find that with my executive coaching clients, adding some sort of productivity tool to their surroundings can enhance their ability to consistently meet or exceed their deadlines. Examples of this might be alarms associated with the Pomodoro Method that go off in their workspace to signify the start and stop of shorter work sessions with breaks in between; white boards with key deadlines and strategic areas of focus for the week, month, or quarter; or a printed out agenda for the day with key notes to keep in mind to be prepared for significant meetings. Everyone works differently and therefore everyone finds different tools to be useful. The key is to find what works for you and implement that consistently to increase your productivity and performance.”

Daphne Valcin of 

How important is the quality of sound in enhancing the effectiveness of a real estate marketing video?

“Music selection and sound quality can be the difference between an OK video or an amazing video. Taking the time to select a song that matches the goal mood of the video is crucial, along with lining that music up with the elements of the video ensures that you will be able to better captivate your target audience. This is an area that all creatives need to invest a little time into their production process if they want to make top notch content.”

How can scents influence an individual's concentration and productivity levels at work?

“The sense of smell is powerful, so aromatherapy is a great tool that has profound effects on our cognitive abilities. Pleasant fragrances can have a major impact on our mood, emotions and overall well-being. Peppermint is a natural energizer, and enhances concentration. Rosemary increases cognitive performance and memory retention. Citrus scents uplift and elevate mood. Lavender reduces stress and aids in creating a relaxing atmosphere. By infusing your workplace with invigorating scents, you can help to increase productivity and improve concentration and overall well-being.”

Jamea Gray, Owner of

How can someone reorganize their existing home workspace to enhance quiet and focus?

I think the key is to eliminate clutter. Clutter causes stress and if your home office is cluttered with paperwork and supplies it will not create the ideal workspace for you. There are many organizing products to consider depending on the space, but investing in some to store supplies and paperwork will make a huge difference. Utilizing desk drawer organizers will keep items out of sight which decreases visual distractions.”

Juliana Meidl, Owner/Organizer at Serenity At Home

How do you evaluate the acoustic needs of an office space when designing furniture for it?

We have a series of questions pertaining to usage and physical aspects whose sum is greater than the parts.

  • What is the specific usage of the room?

  • What are the stakeholders' acoustical/speech privacy needs and expectations?

  • Overall square footage

  • Ceiling height

  • Ceiling type

  • Flooring type

  • Wall types (i.e. glass, drywall, de-mountable)

 These attributes are then taken into account to help determine function and form of the acoustical solution.”

Acoustical Engineering Experts at Rework

Can you share some insights on how custom storage solutions can be tailored to different home office layouts to maximize productivity?

“By choosing semi-custom or custom cabinetry instead of stock furniture to create your office desk & furniture you can truly tailor the storage and functionality of your home office work zone. To improve productivity and enhance your workflow, keep frequently used items stored close at hand to the seating area and items used less often further away. For example, if you’re right-handed, add a drawer to your right with organized dividers for your frequently used work tools and writing instruments so they can be grabbed quickly with a fluid motion. While a drawer with a file organizer for storing files that are used only a few times per month could be positioned on the wall behind the office seat so they are not too far away when needed but not taking up prime real estate next to the worker.

My top 5 favorite home office storage features that will enhance the workflow are:

  1. Charging Station: This can be placed in any drawer, roll-out shelf, or cabinet to add in-cabinet charging and power for electronics (I.E. phones, laptops, computers, tablets, etc.

  2. Flat roll-out shelves: These create easier access to bulky electronics like printers, desktop computer towers, etc.

  3. Toe Kick Drawer: Can add extra hidden space below a cabinet optimizing a typically unused space for misc items.

  4. Drawer Dividers: Drawer dividers can create custom-organized space in shallow to deep drawers adding order to your home office supplies.

  5. File Organizer Drawer: Creates an organized space for hanging file folders behind beautiful cabinets.”

Mandi Juskiewicz, Sr. Design & Marketing Specialist at Dura Supreme

Are there any specific design features that help reduce distractions in the workplace?

“With the ever-increasing number of technology interruptions and distractions coming at us from all angles, it’s extremely important to have control of your notifications. Notifications like new email notifications, social media messengers, Microsoft Teams notifications and/or any notifications that would stop you from managing your time effectively. Please know that if you’re interrupted like the ones I just mentioned, that will pull you off track and conceivably take up to seven minutes to recover your state of mind (that you are working in before you were interrupted). It’s important to know to become, as Nir Eyal, Instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has more indistractable. That’s the most important skill for the 21st century, as Nir has said, and I agree.   Retain your focus by reducing the number of interruptions and you’ll be surprised how many times your phone, tablet, and/or computer might be notifying you of information that’s not necessary to address at this exact moment.

Stephen Turner, Turner Time Management

You’ve heard from our experts on what they think - what do you reckon? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Call us at 1.800.679.8511

You’ve heard from our experts on what they think - what do you reckon? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Have questions about your project?

Call us at 1.800.679.8511