Is your workplace too noisy or is it actually too quiet? Acoustics and our perception of what is unpleasant is a bit of an odd thing. For sure, some workplaces are just plain noisy - loads of staff busily working away on their own tasks or collaborating with others either face to face of face to phone. In many modern commercial offices with shiny concrete floors, glass or plasterboard walls, sound has nowhere for the sound to go. The sound simply builds up and workers compete to be heard - something like a sports pub really! Fixing this is pretty straight forward - give the sound somewhere to go. Acoustic ceiling tile grids do this best as the surface area is usually large. Failing that in your trendy minimal office with no ceiling, acoustic panels and other sound absorbent surfaces will do the trick.
On the other hand there are workplaces that seem noisy but are actually too quiet! If an office has low ambient sound levels then normal levels of sound from workers will seem loud against that quiet background. Not only do those peaks of sound seem loud, they are also, most importantly, clear, crystal clear. As ambient sound level decreases Speech Intelligibility increases and not only are you interrupted and distracted by the sound, your are distracted more by the detail of that conversation. Noise is one thing, intelligible speech is another! Intelligible conversations are very distracting - ever tried to unhear something? As something (and this can be the most boring, mundane chat) is said you lock-in. It’s a human thing!
So how about fixing that? Well, that’s where sound masking comes in. Sound masking or sound conditioning are the latest evolution of what is often still known as white or pink noise. Though those technologies are outdated the principle is the same. Artificial background sound (to be unobtrusive it mimics the sound of air conditioning) is produced by speakers and elevates the background sound level to an optimal level (40 and 45dB in open-plan) This sound is not noticed by the workers in the space but the detail or intelligibility of speech is reduced and those conversations simply merge into the background. Distraction is reduced and productivity, privacy increase.
Furthermore, if you can hear conversations through your office or meeting room walls, sound masking can fix that to.
45dB Systems are workplace acoustics specialists. Contact us for a free initial conversation and assessment.