The demands on corporate workspace have undergone a revolution in the last decade and building and fit-out design has changed to adapt very well on the whole. However, a new silent killer has emerged and it's killing productivity without anyone knowing it.
Buildings are are being built better and are quieter or to be more specific, ambient or background sound levels in the resulting office space are becoming much lower.
When ambient sound is low, intelligibility of speech is high and conversations are heard more easily. If you mix that with an activity based working (ABW), flexible working culture which encourages collaboration anywhere at anytime, productivity of those in individual focus takes a nose dive as they are constantly interrupted. Higher ambient sound levels reduce the intelligibility of speech and although adjacent workers normally hear local, relevant team-chat, conversations further away are not intelligible and do not distract.
The simple answer to the problem is to introduce ambient sound artificially using sound masking. Using this technology, in particular the latest evolution Sound Conditioning, ambient sound levels automatically adjust to optimise speech privacy by accurately delivering sound to mask specific speech frequencies. This sound self-adjusts depending on the level of activity in the space. To you and I, it's just like the sound of airconditioning!
Sound Conditioning is now become the norm in Australia. At the moment, buildings such as the Barangaroo International Towers, Suncorp's new Shelley Street premises, CBA's Darling Square, Westpacs 275 Kent Street and the latest CLT Accenture building on Hickson Road in Sydney, Holiday Inn new express hotel in Adelaide and a few of Suncorps offices in Brisbane to name a few have all incuded it in their design.
Have a look at 45dB Systems new video (below) which explains some of the discomfort quiet workspace creates and how this can be resolved.