And Its Effects on Employee Privacy, Productivity, + Health
As employees head back to the office for the first time in years, they bring expectations with them. One such expectation is privacy. After years of working from home, many people have created private offices away from their families that allow them to be highly productive. As these individuals return to the office, many face unassigned workstations in open floorplans full of distractions and noises that greatly hinder their productivity. Part of creating a successful return-to-work strategy is providing privacy for employees; sound masking is one of the best ways to do that.
On average, noise distractions interrupt employees every 11 minutes. It can take up to 23 minutes for them to get back in the “flow”.
What is Sound Masking?
Sound masking is the process of adding low-level, unobtrusive background sounds to an environment to reduce the intelligibility of human speech and reduce noise distractions in that environment. When working correctly, sound masking sounds similar to airflow from an HVAC system. Many times, people do not even realize it is on. When turned off, however, the space can suddenly feel too loud or even eerie as every little noise becomes recognizable. While sound masking doesn’t make a room quieter, its specific frequency and amplitude create a blanket of sound that reduces how far speech can travel, making it unintelligible. By covering the human voice, sound masking removes distractions and protects privacy.
Protecting Speech Privacy
The number one complaint among office workers is insufficient speech privacy. According to research, 53% of employees report having overheard confidential company information at their workplace.
Think of all the times you have unintentionally listened to someone’s private conversation. Not only is it uncomfortable and distracting, but it can also be devastating for compliance and legal reasons. When sound masking is appropriately installed, it creates speech privacy, especially in areas where people share highly sensitive information. By placing sound masking outside conference rooms and private
offices, organizations feel confident that their confidential conversations are staying behind closed doors where they belong.
53% of employees report having overheard confidential company information at their workplace.
On average, noise distractions result in office workers experiencing interruptions every 11 minutes. Then, it can take up to 23 minutes to get back into the “flow” they experienced before the distraction. Researchers found that employees can waste between 21.5 and 86 minutes daily due to conversational distractions. This results in poor productivity which can add to significant monetary losses for companies. When sound masking enters a space, employees gain a minimum of 2-4% in productivity and tend to stay at the company longer.
When sound masking enters a space, employees gain a minimum of 2-4% in productivity and tend to stay at the company longer.
Improving Employee Health
Finally, poor office acoustics can adversely affect employee health. A National Library of Medicine study found that workplace noise negatively affects employees physiologically and psychologically. These effects include higher blood pressure and heart rate, which causes hypertension, leading to heart disease and stroke risk. Additionally, loud noises can cause headaches, digestive issues, and in the case of hospital workers dealing with constant alarms, fatigue, and inability to concentrate.
Workplace noise negative effects include high blood pressure and heart rate, headaches, digestive issues, fatigue, and inability to concentrate.
No matter the workplace environment, sound masking plays a significant role in privacy, productivity, and health. So, whether your employees are returning to the office or never left, if you are experiencing acoustical issues, sound masking may be the right solution for you.
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