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Sound Masking

Cambrige Sound MaskingSound Masking is a Critical Component of Acoustic Design

When designing an optimal acoustic environment, architects consider a variety of elements to address noise control and speech privacy. Elements added either Absorb, Block, or Cover sound, and are collectively called the ABC's of acoustic design.

  • A | Absorb:
    Acoustic wall panels, carpet, and ceiling tiles help absorb excess sound

  • B | Block:
    Solid barriers, partitions, and walls help block excess sound

  • C | Cover:
    Sound masking helps cover up excess sound

All of the ABC's of acoustic design can be used together or individually to achieve the desired acoustic environment, but absorbing and blocking materials are costly and underused. Sound masking, on the other hand, is a low-cost option for creating acoustical environments that both reduce noise distractions and increase speech privacy.

Why Do You Need Sound Masking?

Open Floor Plans are the New Normal
Most workplaces today feature more open spaces and smaller, and often shared, workstations. Fewer sound blocking and absorptive materials are being used such as lower or non-existent partitions, hard or glass surfaces, and thinner walls and doors. This creates acoustical challenges that negatively impact workplace
satisfaction, productivity, and speech privacy.

Sound Masking Increases Worker Satisfaction
Approximately 24,000 office workers in private offices, shared offices, cubicles, and open offices were asked to rate their satisfaction with their noise and speech privacy levels. Those with private offices were the only ones satisfied with their speech privacy, and even they only rated them a .55 out of 2 on average.

Lack of Speech Privacy is the Number One Concern of Employees
What’s speech privacy? Simply put, it’s the inability of an unintended listener to understand outside conversations. So someone with a lack of speech privacy is overhearing lots of conversations they shouldn’t be and is also concerned that their conversation is being overheard by others.

Distractions Make Your Employees Less Productive
Employees are interrupted once every 11 minutes according to research from UC Irvine, and it takes them up to 23 minutes to get back into the flow of what they were doing before they were interrupted.

These Distractions Cost Money
In a recent study presented to the International Congress of Noise as a Public Health Problem, researchers found that, on average, employees wasted 21.5 minutes per day due to conversational distractions, making lack of speech privacy the number one cause of reduced productivity. An additional 2014 Steelcase/Ipsos study found that employees lost as much as 86 minutes per day due to noise distractions. Even using conservative estimates, this loss of productivity adds up to big monetary losses for companies. 21.5 minutes daily is roughly 4% of an average employee’s work day (based on an 8 hour day). Some quick math shows
that a company with 100 employees and an average employee salary cost of $50,000 is losing $200,000 a year in lost productivity.

Sound Masking Protects Confidentiality and Reduces Liability
Closing the door to an office no longer guarantees speech privacy, in fact, it’s probably worse because closing that door provides the illusion of privacy.
Many private conversations could be HR nightmares if overheard by the wrong people.

Reference PDF Documents:


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