Improve Productivity, Enhance Privacy With One Solution: Sound Masking

Sep 9, 2019

Open work areas have become the norm as a way to increase collaboration, teamwork, and flexibility. There is no end in sight to this trend, with an estimated 70 percent of people already working in open floor plans. The open office may have some negative effects on businesses, but many of these can be eliminated with expert sound masking.

Two fundamental reasons office noise may be hurting your business.

1. Noise affects employee productivity

Buzzing cell phones, noisy coworkers, beeping office machines, and impromptu meetings in close quarters can do much more than induce eye-rolling irritation. The EPA estimates that workplace noise adversely affects the lives of millions of people with complaints ranging from mild to serious.  

“There are direct links between noise and health.  Problems related to noise include stress-related illnesses, high blood pressure, speech interference, hearing loss, sleep disruption, and lost productivity.” EPA

Other studies point to the psychological effect of noise of the workplace. According to the Small Business Chronicle, “Excessive noise can affect the emotional well-being of employees and cause them to be more moody or even depressed.”

“Studies show productivity decreases by as much as 40 percent because of noise and distractions. The University of California Irvine found that employees are interrupted once every 11 minutes, and it can take as much as 23 minutes to get back on task.” TechDecisions

Workers around the world report the same issues. A study reported in the Times of India found that between one third and one half of employees were unable to concentrate or focus on work in open workspaces. Additionally, employees reported that they lost valuable time as they left their desks in search of a quiet location in order to discuss confidential information over the phone.

2. Noise equals a loss of privacy

You don’t have to be in the CIA to handle information that should not be broadcast throughout an office. In industries as diverse as financial institutions, healthcare, education, customer service, insurance, childcare, and food service, sensitive or confidential information is shared—and often overheard.

Guarding the confidential information of clients, students, patients, customers, and associates is much more than a convenience issue; it can be a compliance or legal issue. It can also determine employee retention.

“Noise and privacy loss are identified as the main source of workspace dissatisfaction.” Sciencedirect.com

Millennials, who will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, famously crave collaboration, teamwork, and frequent feedback, the ideals of the open floor plan. And they often turn to sound masking for privacy.

“Up-and-coming generations thrive in social, collaborative environments. Nonetheless, there’s still a need for privacy and focus.”  ViewSonic

One solution: sound masking

The terms “sound masking” and “white noise” are often (incorrectly) used interchangeably. But the difference is important. White noise works like playing music in a packed restaurant. Restaurant guests speak louder to be heard over the music, the manager turns the music up for ambience, and everything spirals upward. Not true with sound masking.

Studies at the Center for the Built Environment at the University of California at Berkeley have identified sound masking as the most effective way to create speech privacy in the workplace.

Sound masking is engineered sound design that operates at a low volume and blocks the sound range of the human voice. It focuses on intelligibility — not volume. Properly installed, sound masking matches the frequencies of the human voice with a sound that is comfortable to the human ear. Because it is a uniform measure of sound across an entire office space at a consistent volume and frequency, sound masking is heard as more of an even “hum,” allowing it to become just a part of the ambient environment.

Sound masking allows for audible conversations in open areas – but limits the range at which they can be understood. Some estimate that without sound masking, conversations and noise often can be easily heard from up to 50 feet away. Sound masking shrinks that area by approximately 70 percent. 

Watch this video to learn more about how our sound masking solution works:

 

Sound masking is a cost-efficient and effective way to improve productivity and privacy, but the install is best performed by experienced technicians. The size, shape, materials, and acoustics of an office determine its unique needs and challenges. Find out how the trained professionals at BLM Technologies can make sound masking work for you.