Improve your office environment with sound masking

Improve your office environment with sound masking

Sound management is an often overlooked aspect of office planning, but intelligent acoustic planning can create a more peaceful and productive office. White noise and sound masking systems can give you control over your office’s acoustics. Sound masking is part of a comprehensive solution that can do far more than noise cancellation or sound dampening materials can accomplish alone. A smart installation can effectively quadruple the acoustic buffer between workers. The same system can be used to provide background music or funnel paging, creating a flexible, dynamic sound system perfect for any work environment.

Most offices suffer from an excess of background noise. This is due in large part to the general quiet of an office, which increases the distraction caused by even quiet conversational noise. This background noise, often known as ‘pink noise’, hurts productivity. Sound management offsets this in part by a discrete installation of speakers that produce a carefully engineered white noise which counteracts noise problems. An added benefit to this system is the creation of privacy. This noise dampening systems create effective sound bubbles, ensuring confidential speech privacy. Noise cancellation technology improves over traditional passive noise baffles which simply dampen the overall volume of background noise. It works better in an office environment than noise cancellation technology, which is not particularly effective in eliminating noise from the varied sources and various listening positions within an office.

Acoustic planning has even further benefit in green construction and office design. Many of the materials in green construction do not absorb sound as well as more traditional materials, creating even more uncontrolled noise. Further contributing to office noise are the commonly used open workspaces with fewer and shorter sound barriers built between work stations. Sound masking can create invisible barriers to background noise, allowing all the benefits of an open design without suffering from reduced acoustic control.

What is white noise?
White noise gets its name from white light which includes all the colors of the spectrum. White noise includes indistinguishable sounds from the entire audible sound spectrum. Today’s technology, however, focuses the sound on the frequency range of human speech.

The first question most people as is how adding more noise will help them concentrate better. Picture for a moment that you are in a dark room and someone across the room is randomly blinking a flashlight at you. The flashlight is very distracting and even irritating. But what happens if someone turns on the overhead lights? You hardly notice the flashlight because it is covered by the bright overhead lights.

Sound machines work on a similar principle. By adding general white noise, similar to that of a fan or an AC unit, distracting sounds around you, like conversations, street noise or neighbors, are hardly noticeable.

Does white noise really work?
Yes. The principles behind it may seem implausible, the application has helped many people improve concentration and productivity. Government agencies were the first to apply this technology because of its effectiveness. Other industries have also greatly benefited from the privacy and productivity white noise can provide. The result is that private conversations are not overheard, and office noise is not longer a huge distraction for workers.

Why use white noise?
White noise helps cover distracting or irritating sounds. Here are a few of the many applications for white noise. Less distraction at work – White noise will mask conversations and other noise in the work place, leaving you free to focus on your work. A sound masking system in the business space will benefit everyone in the office.

Improved privacy and confidentiality – In industries requiring greater confidentiality (such as hospitals, government offices, counseling, etc.), sound masking systems use white noise is designed to cover human speech so people who aren’t in the conversation cannot hear the conversation.

Less interrupted sleep – Using a sound machine while sleeping will cover up the jolting sounds from neighbors or street noise, letting you sleep longer with less interruptions.

Sound therapy for tinnitus – Some sound therapies have been proven to lessen the discomfort caused by ‘ringing in your ears’ or tinnitus.

In-Plenum

Image Courtesy of Cambridgesoundmanagement.com

Direct Field

Image Courtesy of cambridgesoundmanagement.com

Anyone in the workplace can imagine how nice it would be to have a system like this installed. Having a soothing white noise to help you ignore the annoying and distracting noise around you could help you truly focus on your work. As someone who has used white noise to sleep while living in a downstairs apartment with noisy neighbors, I can say it certainly helps. Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments!