Sound Masking in the Workplace

Sound Masking in the Workplace

Sound masking is an exciting new solution to the challenge of a noisy work environment. Whether you run a call center, manage a cubicle environment, or operate a traditional office with open areas, sound plays an important role in employee productivity and satisfaction. We are all familiar with how the workplace affects our employees’ ability to concentrate. It is important to every business, but especially those that are literally buzzing with energy. 

The Importance of Sound Masking in the Workplace

The impact of noise distraction is significant. A survey presented at the ICBEN conference (International Commission on the Biological Effects of Noise) revealed that 48% of participants pinpointed speech as the most upsetting noise source at work. The survey also found employees wasted over 21 minutes per day being distracted by conversations resulting in lost productivity. Sound experts indicate that there is a 66% drop in productivity in open offices. Losing any significant portion of one’s day can result in unnecessary financial losses for companies.

How to Reduce Noise at Work

So what is the solution to noise at work? There are three major levels of sound control: 

  • Sound rules (speakerphone, conversations, music etc)
  • Absorption solutions (panels, treatments, soft furnishings etc)
  • Sound masking (or “white noise” — read below to learn why this term is wrong)

Learn more: Acoustic Wall Panels: Decorative And Effective

What is Sound Masking: Does it Really Work?

Sound masking is the latest weapon in the arsenal against noise. Sound masking adds an unobtrusive background sound that obscures the usual office “buzz”. Voices that are more than 15 feet away fade away into the background. Interestingly, the human brain will try to tune in to any conversation within hearing range, so conversations can be extremely distracting. Although it seems strange to say that adding sound improves the noise level, it really works! A sound masking system, which sounds something like an air conditioner, is actually masking the speech by rendering it unlike human voices, so that our brains ignore it as simply ambient sound! Amazing, isn’t it?

Sound Masking versus “White Noise”

How is this different from “white noise”?  White noise machines also mask voices but do so by putting out sound in all frequencies at equal levels so it is discernible as a sound. Many people feel that it sounds like radio static and can be distracting. Sound masking systems, on the other hand,  are engineered to the frequency of the human voice. So they blend into the background and allow you to ignore it and get to work! 

To emphasize how effective sound masking machines can be, they are now being utilized in medical facilities, and it is helping patients sleep better when there is generally a lot of noise. Patients show improvements on health and recovery scores.

White noise and sound masking are both affordable, effective technologies that address the problem of noisy and distracting workspaces. They are simple mechanical systems that can be easily installed by experts in any business environment. However, the best option is sound masking because it bolsters employee privacy and comfort while reducing distractions and stress. A serene environment is a boon to your business. Let the sales ring out, not sound pollution!

Still Have Questions About Sound Masking?

Contact us if you would like to learn more about how your business can improve with the addition of sound – sound masking, that is. Call us to learn more at (602) 840-6678

[1] 2008 ICBEN conference. Dr. Valtteri Hongisto and Dr. Annu Haapakangas presented the results from their acoustic environment and work performance survey of 689 employees from 11 companies