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I'm currently reading DeMarco and Lister's Peopleware, and I've been struck (as everyone is) by their comments about noise reduction via using private offices, and the effect this has on productivity.

Private offices are probably not going to happen at my workplace, but I'm wondering if high cubicle partitions (say, 6 feet) might be nearly as good? I imagine they wouldn't deflect quite as much noise, but they would have some effect.

One down-side is that the center cubicles would have less natural light. That seems quite a big downer to me.

I'd be interested to hear what peoples experiences are.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by MichaelT, gnat, GlenH7, Kilian Foth, Bart van Ingen Schenau Jan 21 '14 at 13:04

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Maybe some kind of astronaut-style helmets could cut out all the noise without affecting peripheral vision? –  Alison Dec 13 '10 at 1:51
Team work would be a perfect work organization, if there weren't any people (kidding). –  user8685 Feb 3 '11 at 23:47

7 Answers 7

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It depends on if you are saying 6' vs 4' or 6' vs 5'

Current office has all three, the high walls help a little over the medium... Other than the loud talkers, I can only hear people 4 desks away in the cubes where the walls are higher than the people's heads (ours are cloth covered so that helps as well), but the 6' over the 4' make little difference. The 3' walls might as well not exist from an acoustic point of view. our offices are poorly done, bus still 2x as effective as the highest of the walls.

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In my experience, cubicle partitions make things worse. Now you have people nearby who are still audible but are more apt to forget there are other people around who can hear them.

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Sure, they have some effect, but not enough for it to matter. It's still not quiet.

At night, my leaky-tap isn't as noisy as the neighbour's having a party, but it still drives me just as crazy.

Bottom line: it's not a fix.

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Not nearly as good, but a move in the right direction for programmers.

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No, I worked with them at a prior job, they effectively do nothing. I could still hear the person a couple cubes over clipping his nails ick

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Almost certainly no. The air vibrations (speech) will go out in all directions, also upwards at different angles, refract from the walls and the ceiling and find their way into other compartments.

Unless every surface in the room is covered with a sound dampening material.

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No. You need for people to be able to talk freely without disturbing others.

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