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[Infographic] How Does Sound Masking Work?

Ambient noise helps everything fade out of earshot.

September 25, 2020

Ever been distracted at work by a nearby conversation or overheard something confidential in a waiting room? Don't worry; you're not alone. In fact, 80 percent of workers suffer from noise distractions, and 53 percent of workers have overheard confidential conversations. That's because when the room is quiet, every sound seems louder, and that makes them almost impossible to ignore. 

How Does Sound Masking Work?

By gently raising the ambient noise in the room, sound masking makes other sounds seem less noticeable. This unobtrusive sound can help improve employees' concentration, reduce distractions, and boost speech privacy. 

Sound masking technology emits a low shushing noise called pink noise (just imagine the sound of an HVAC unit). This sound is then manipulated and tailored to match the needs of each room it's being used in.

The result? Human speech is camouflaged and distracting noises become less apparent. The good news is, close by conversations remain crystal clear, but distant conversations are all but unintelligible. 

What are the Benefits of Sound Masking? 

  • Fewer Distractions: Without sound masking, noise distractions can cost employees as much as 86 minutes of work each day. 
  • Increased Productivity: Sound masking has been shown to boost productivity anywhere from 3 to nearly 20 percent.
  • More satisfied employees: Research shows that noise distractions can lead to stress, poor performance, and job dissatisfaction. Sound masking can help, and it's even been shown to reduce stress by as much as 27 percent. 

Who Should Use Sound Masking?

Poor speech privacy is one of the biggest problems for employees. With sound masking, businesses can improve privacy, reduce distractions, and improve both confidentiality and compliance.

Sound masking benefits a variety of industries, including financial institutions, healthcare facilities, offices, government agencies, religious institutions, and law offices. Since sound masking is cost-effective, simple to install, and virtually maintenance-free, there's no limit to who can benefit from an installation. 

Healthcare Facilities

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates how a healthcare provider collects, stores and uses personal health information. HIPAA requires that providers implement safeguards to protect patient privacy, which includes overheard conversations. Healthcare facilities can boost their HIPAA compliance by deploying sound masking in waiting rooms and treatment areas.

The Los Angeles Times also cites recent studies that, “link excessive noise to a higher risk of heart attacks and high blood pressure” making noise more than an irritant; it is “a serious public health problem.”

Financial Institutions

Financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, and investment services companies are legally bound to upholding information security for their clients on account of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA). Enacted by the United States Congress in 1999, the GLBA requires institutions that provide financial services, products, or advice to safeguard their customer financial data. Sound masking helps FIs meet this goal in an effective and discreet way. 

Sound Masking Infographic

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