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What is Sound Masking?

Conserve Privacy. Reduce Distractions. Increase Efficiency.

Defining Sound Masking: What is it and How Does It Work?

Sound Masking is the intentional “drowning out” of background noises. Tools, such as small desktop units and Qt Pro kits, play non-distracting sounds to reduce the volume and distraction of outside noises. Sound Masking systems are intentionally designed to mitigate the impact of office noises, such as other people’s conversations, their telephone ringing, or even a printer operating.

It’s important to recognize that Sound Masking is not as simple as making noise to cover up outside noise. Sound Masking systems are specifically designed to complement the acoustic design of an office space. By incorporating office acoustic design, Sound Masking systems effectively reduce distracting noises and create a more efficient and less stressful work atmosphere.

A simple way to think of sound masking: it is the perfume for noise. It does not eliminate the noise, which would be impossible—instead, Sound Masking makes noise unnoticeable. The sound typically replicates the noise of quiet airflow.

Sound Masking systems make up the “C” of the “ABCs” of acoustic design.

A: Absorb. This process primarily consists of adding sound-absorption tiles to the floor, ceiling, and walls.

B: Block. This process primarily consists of adding barriers to external noises, to not interrupt the acoustic environment.

C: Cover. This is the Sound Masking step, used to cover the acoustic design from uncontrolled noises.

The acoustic design “ABCs,” while each complement one another, it is unnecessary to incorporate all of them due to the high costs of “A” and “B.” Therefore, it is recommended to first incorporate “C,” the most cost efficient option: Sound Masking.

8 Immediate Benefits of Sound Masking.

  1. Privacy.
    Sound Masking is designed to reduce the distance that vocal sound waves travel. By out-maneuvering vocal sound waves, Sound Masking creates a level of privacy where people outside a worker’s close proximity cannot hear the conversation that the worker is having. But don’t worry—this does not mean a worker cannot have a conversation because Sound Masking is incredibly easy to reduce its effectiveness or turn off to allow discussion. According to the Center for the Built Environment in Berkeley, California, conversational privacy is the most important office environmental issue, as well as the least addressed.

  2. Attention.
    It’s no secret that outside noises are one of the largest factors for reducing attention spans and causing employee distraction. Whether it’s a conversation near the office coffee machine, a phone call in the other room, or even your desk neighbor’s keyboard typing—office distractions exist everywhere. Fortunately, Sound Masking dramatically reduces the occurrence of office distractions by mitigating the distance traveled of distracting sound waves. According to a study by UC Irvine, each worker is distracted every 11 minutes. Further, the study shows that it requires an average of 23 minutes to return to the efficiency levels that the employee was at prior to distraction. Even more, studies have proven that employees lose up to 86 minutes every day from noise interruptions.

  3. Stress.
    Distracting noises are undoubtedly one of the largest factors of office-space stress. Long-term external noise exposure in an office environment, from causes such as a phone conversation next-door or a nearby fax machine, have been scientifically proven to increase blood pressure and spike stress levels—even if the office is relatively quiet. The main cause of stress is hearing conversations that you are not a part of, such as a phone call or a quick chat between your coworkers. Sound Masking drastically reduces office noises, meaning employee stress levels are also drastically reduced.

  4. Open Floor Plans.
    Open Floor offices are becoming increasingly common to promote coworker cohesion and equality. Unfortunately, Open Floor Plans bring with them unanticipated consequences—namely, noise distractions. Fortunately, with a Sound Masking machine, Open Floor Plans can continue to take over the mainstream office environment while reducing the rate of noise distractions

  5. Employee happiness.
    A U.S. General Services Administration Study shows that out of about 24,000 office workers, the large majority of employees were unsatisfied with their office space due to noise levels and a lack of privacy. By incorporating Sound Masking to your office setup, employee happiness will regenerate and an employer will directly address the number one environmental office issue.

  6. Focus.
    In terms of Sound Masking, focus and attention are very distinct and important features. While Sound Masking, as stated previously, prevents distractions—it also improves focus. With a consistent, office acoustic-designed background noise, focus levels substantially improve. This means your employees get more done—quicker and better.

  7. Maintain your open office atmosphere.
    Forget about closing doors or drastically changing your office floor plan. Rather than forcing privacy and closing off a friendly atmosphere, an employer can just install a Sound Masking system to improve efficiency and reduce noise levels. Sound Masking systems not only save offices on reorganization costs, but they also allow an office to maintain an open and friendly environment, which, absent noise distractions, have shown to be vastly successful in improving office cohesion.

  8. Save money.
    Reducing distractions, increasing focus rates, and boosting employee happiness levels have direct correlations with increasing company growth and revenues. Beyond growth, however, distractions directly cost companies money.

    If an employee loses 21 minutes per day due to noise distractions, every 24 days, an employee loses more than an entire day of work to noise interruptions.

    Where Should Sound Masking Be Used?

    Sound Masking is great for corporate office environments. However, the utility of Sound Masking extends far beyond business. Sound Masking can be used in a variety of spheres, such as:

    • Home
    • Healthcare Facilities
    • Banks
    • Customer Support Centers
    • Coworking Spaces
    • Gaming Environments
    • Government Buildings
    • Law Firms
    • Universities & Research Labs
    • Conference Rooms
    • Hotels & Spas
    • And much more.

      What Are The Two Best Sound Masking Options?

      Small Desktop Units.

      Best for: individuals looking to reduce distractions.

      These systems have two primary advantages: low cost and portability. If you are unsure about investing in a holistic Sound Masking solution, you can begin by testing out the process with Small Desktop Units. While they are not as scalable as the Qt Pro line, the units suppress external noise around a specific desk. These units are perfect for employees taking action into their own hands, or for a specific employee who is bothered by the noise.

      Qt Pro.

      Best for: offices looking to reduce distractions.

      The Qt Pro system is the Sound Masking System that is the:

      • most effective
      • cost efficient
      • quickest to install

      The system consists of three primary components:

      1. Qt Emitters – coffee mug-sized speakers that directly mitigate noise .

      2. Control Modules – a single Qt Control Module can control up to 720 emitters, covering 72,000 square feet of space. This lets you control the volume, power, and much more for each emitter—meaning an office can have different Sound Masking volumes depending on the specific area of the office.

      3. Cables – used to connect the Qt Emitters to the Control Modules.

      Certified professional installation is highly recommended.

      The system is trusted by over 40% of the Fortune 100, is the most environmentally friendly Masking System, and the only Sound Masking system that can be installed in existing space and in hard ceilings—making its Sound Masking abilities significantly better than competitors.

      Reduce Distractions Today.

      To reduce distractions today, request a free quote from the Office Privacy team.

      If you have any additional questions, feel free to give the team a call.