Every office has that one person. You know – the one who talks so loudly that you can’t hear your own (frustrated) thoughts. It’s not his fault. If the office weren’t filled with such library-grade silence, you probably wouldn’t even notice it.
Realistically, the office does need to be quiet to promote concentration and productivity. Too much noise and your ears will pull your mind in all sorts of directions. But silence can be just as bad; you hear every click of a mouse, every sip of coffee, particularly if your workspace (workscape) is set up in an open plan office design. Private offices aren’t always private either. We’ve all had that experience when we can clear hear every word in the office next door, even with the door closed.
There needs to be a balance.
Office sound masking is a technique in which you add an unobtrusive background sound to reduce the intelligibility of speech and other auditory distractions. The noise may sound similar to airflow; it is subtle and soft. It is essentially the same concept as a white noise machine, which masks the ringing in a tinnitus patient’s ears.
With a sound masking design, open plan offices become more focused workspaces, and employees suffer from fewer distractions that interrupt thought processes and take time away from their work. Because it masks the sound of voices, office speech privacy is increased; you can take a phone call at your desk without the guy on the other side of the office hearing every word. You won’t have to listen to his conversation either, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. Private office becomes private again.
Employees in the United States now work an average of 164 hours longer per year than they did 20 years ago.
In fact, U.S. employees spend at least 1,896 hours at work each year. You are spending a whole lot of time at the office, so it needs to be a comfortable environment. Plus, today’s office design is dramatically different. With much lower workstations, fewer offices and increased collaboration areas scattered throughout the entire office, a more holistic approach like sound masking is needed.
Happier offices are those that recognize the employees’ needs and implement a solution. Studies show that comfortable, well-it, and well-ventilated workplaces increase productivity up to 16%. Decreasing noise interference can boost your employees’ attitude and work ethic even more. If your employees are citing noise as the catalyst for low productivity, a sound masking design can solve the problem completely.