Love it or hate it, the “open office” concept is a trend that will probably be with us for a while. The idea is that open offices promote collaboration, and allow more people to work in less space. While beautiful in design, open office spaces are often noisy, with hard or glass surfaces, minimal or low partitions, and few sound-absorbing materials; making privacy and confidentiality real concerns.
The Center for Built Environment in Berkeley, CA surveyed 25,000 workers, who said that speech privacy was the biggest problem in the workplace. They found that employees are distracted once every 11 minutes, and it takes an average of 23 minutes to get their concentration back on task.
The solution? … Sound masking.
Sound masking is engineered ambient sound that helps to mask voice distractions. The ambient sound is in the voice frequency, so it helps to clamp the voices — just as wearing headset can block outside sounds. Generating sound frequencies to match the ambient sound will cancel or help to cancel that sound.
The noise produced by sound masking can be compared to an air conditioning unit. It isn’t noisy or distracting in itself, and produces a calmer environment. The best sound masking isn’t even noticed … until you shut it off.
How does Sound Masking Affect Clients and Staff?
People working in open offices are under a constant barrage of sound, producing tension and fatigue. Sound masking can cut much of the distracting noise, making for a calmer environment. It’s easier for people to tune out noise and ignore it.
Constant interruptions can have a devastating effect on worker productivity and short-term memory. Employees turn to headphones as a last resort, but this can be distracting People in an office with sound masking reported an increase of 7.8% word recollection and 8.7% number recollection.
- Security and Privacy.
Do the terms HIPAA and PCI compliance mean anything to your business? Today’s companies are mandated by these legal and regulatory rules about privacy of information. Overheard information can be an HR nightmare and an often under-considered gap in protecting your client’s information. Sound masking reduces the intelligibility of speech, meaning that it’s less likely that sensitive information will be overheard or understood – which also reduces your company’s liability for “leaks.”