Open office floor plans are increasingly popular for businesses, but they can create a noisy, distracting work environment. The average worker loses more than two hours each day to distractions and interruptions. These workers are more stressed and more prone to making mistakes. However, sound masking may be just solution you are looking for.
What Is Sound Masking?
Many people use the term “sound masking” but most of them don’t understand what it actually means. Sound masking uses white noise to cover intrusive, distracting sounds. Today’s specialized technology creates a gentle sound focused on the frequency spectrum of human speech. The low-level white noise sounds like the consistent whirring of a fan or air conditioner; it effectively masks unwanted sounds while fading almost invisibly into the background.
Because the white noise is focused on the frequencies of speech, in addition to covering random office noise, it also creates “speech privacy.” Simply put, conversations are rendered unintelligible beyond the immediate people involved in the discussion.
It is important to understand, however, that sound masking is not the same as noise cancellation technology. True noise cancellation is only affordable in small devices like headphones or microphones, though there is also an expensive military-grade application. The noise issues faced by the average business do not normally require that level of technology or expense to find an effective solution.
How Can Sound Masking Improve Your Office?
Sound masking is one of the most cost-effective tools available to address noise problems like privacy and office distractions. Here are some examples of how sound masking can work for you:
Example 1: The distracted cubicle worker!
It is extremely challenging and stressful to concentrate on your work sitting in a cubicle while you are surrounded by conversations and excess noise. People have started using headphones more frequently to try and focus in the middle of it all, though sometimes listening to music can become another form of distraction. Instead, a sound masking system installed in the cubicle space would effectively mask the distracting noise improving concentration and productivity.
Example 2: The overhead, confidential conversations!
The distractions from example 1 are caused by conversations, but not just because of the open floor plan. Speech also travels freely and clearly through the paper-thin walls of the surrounding offices, including the highly confidential conversations of human resources. By adding a second zone of sound masking to the closed offices the white noise can provide speech privacy for the offices as well as covering distractions. The separate zones allow for sound levels to be adjusted effectively for the size of the space without excess noise build up in the closed offices.
The effective use of sound masking can cover over distracting background conversations while increasing concentration and productivity. And a quality sound masking system provides effective privacy and confidentiality.