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How to Block Out a Noisy Cube Co-Worker

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Open-plan office environments and cubicles may be viewed as good ways to save space or promote teamwork, but employees are sometimes left with headaches because of the extra noise they must endure. If you are dealing with a co-worker who is particularly loud, you might have a hard time concentrating on your job. By finding ways to decrease your distractions, you might end up performing better at your job and even enjoying your work life more.

Earplugs and Headphones

Earplugs are a good way to block out noise from co-workers who may distract you. They may not block all noise completely, but they will certainly help you concentrate by reducing the sound level. You might even try combining earplugs with headphones so you can drown out the sounds that are happening all around you but still hear music. Or you might try noise-canceling headphones instead. Noise-canceling, or sound-canceling, headphones are placed deeper in the ear canal and have tips made of silicone or foam that create a seal in your ear canal to better block out sound.

Software Programs

Use white noise to block out sounds coming from noisy co-workers' cubicles. One method is to use wear headphones and listen to software that specializes in white noise. For example, ChatterBlocker uses a blend of music, nature sounds and background chatter to blur speech around you so that it doesn't distract you. Simply Noise offers a selection of different types of "color" noise and a volume knob to block out distractions. White noise contains sound in all frequencies to block out surrounding sounds and help you concentrate, while pink noise blends high and low frequencies to create a waterfall effect that helps keep you energized and alert.

Listening to Music

Wearing headphones alone might not be enough to drown out a particularly noisy cubicle neighbor. By listening to music, you can also give yourself something to focus on besides the sounds your neighbor is making or your attempt to drown them out. The only negative to listening to music is you might miss a phone call if your music is on too loud.


If the noise is just too overwhelming, talk to your boss about alternatives. See if your boss can talk to your co-worker about being quieter or, if you're working in a noisy part of the office, see if you can move your cubicle to a different location. This may not always be an option, especially if you are grouped by department, so you also see if you can change your work hours to come in early or leave late. Early morning hours or late evening are usually quieter. Some bosses might even let you work from home on day that require extra concentration.


With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

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