Sound masking is a cost-effective, virtually maintenance-free way to reduce office distractions related to human-caused noise, especially conversations. When provided by an expert vendor, masking is quick and easy. A set of specialized white noise generators is fine-tuned to your needs and installed throughout your office space.
This white noise is not perceptible to the average person visiting or working in your office. However, it reduces the informational content of background speech in the work environment.
This curbs the cognitive load on your workforce. People will no longer be hearing bits and pieces of conversation, but only the specific things that they need to focus on in the moment.
Although the technology behind sound masking is not new, its power to enhance business productivity has only gained acclaim over the last few years. Most professionals aren’t sure how to evaluate their needs or what questions they need to ask a vendor.
The business case for sound masking is clear, but how do you take the next step?
Here’s a process you can follow:
1. Determine Where Sound Masking Is Needed
If you have a small office, then your masking system can be installed all throughout your work areas to maximize its impact. If you have a larger office or a widespread campus, however, you can look for some specific places where a system will make the most good.
Low-level equipment noise such as the tapping of keyboards or the hum of computer hardware can also be moderated through sound masking. The best effect is produced when dealing with sounds that stay within a predictable range at a low decibel level.
This means you may gain value by installing masking equipment in server rooms and other areas that produce ambient noise. Workers in these locations will also be able to notice and respond to alarms and alerts more easily, since those are short, sharp sounds.
3. Rule Out The Need For Soundproofing Or Sound Cancellation
Sound masking is not to be confused with soundproofing. Masking is effective for low- and moderate-intensity sounds that are produced by human interaction or everyday tasks like typing and walking from place to place. These sounds are relatively quiet, but are amplified by their proximity and consistency.
If there are parts of your business that call for silence or superior acoustic properties, you probably need something else – soundproofing. This uses special materials and techniques to prevent sound infiltration from outside a room. It is beyond the scope of masking.
Sound cancellation is an even more advanced technique that involves rendering sounds indistinct by countering them with acoustically similar “mirror” sounds. This is useful in certain cases of industrial noise pollution, but it has limited use in most offices.
4. Ask The Right Questions Of Your Prospective Vendor
When considering your build-out, be sure to ask the following questions: