Noise in offices


What is noise?

Noise is often defined as unwanted sound and is typically measured in the unit decibel (dBA), which is also referred to as the sound pressure level.

The sound pressure level in an open office space will typically be between 40-75 dBA, depending on the type of work tasks in the office.


Take a look at the setup video on YouTube to learn more about noise in offices and how to set up your Noise Guide.

Work tasks and noise levels

It may be difficult to figure out how noisy or quiet your office is. One thing that can help is to think about the level of concentration or amount of conversation needed to perform a typical task in your office. Here are some general indicators to follow:

Quiet office: 45-50 dB

Primarily non-verbal tasks, such as reading, writing and programming


Normal office: 50-55 dB

Tasks such as reading and writing, but also some conversation with colleagues


Noisy office: 55-60 dB

Tasks that require frequent conversation and telephone calls



Using Noise Guide

To see some examples of what others have done to reduce noise in their offices, take a look at these case stories:

If you have ideas, you would like to share, about reducing noise in your particular office setting, please send them to

How to handle noise

There are a number of ways to handle noise in offices, ranging from ways to decorate the interior of the office that will minimize the nuisances of noise to setting up guidelines or rules of conduct for your office.

Go to How to handle noise to see some examples of what you can do to reduce noise in the open office space.