Speech Privacy

The ABC's of Speech Privacy

Absorb using acoustic panels or dividers can absorb distracting sounds as well as cut down on visual distractions.

Block installing partitions can reduce both acoustic and visual distractions.

Cover adding a source of unstructured, low-level background sound with a modern, adaptive sound masking system can cover distracting noise and increase speech privacy. 

"The ABC’s" is a convenient and memorable acronym of three components that perform best when combined in some form to achieve an acceptable level of speech privacy to improve workplace productivity.

How Much Are Distractions Costing You?

Among professional researchers who have studied the productivity of office-based information workers for decades, it is now universally accepted that conversational distractions are the biggest cause of lost productivity in open workplaces. Therefore, they are the most important factor to limit and control.

Let’s look at the facts from recent studies:

75% of employees in one study rated workplace acoustics as the worst aspect of their office environment.

Reduced productivity:

Sound expert Julian Treasure reported that there is a 66% drop in productivity in open offices.

Stress:

According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), noise is the main contributor to workplace stress. A Cornell study says that the uncontrollability of sound makes it stressful.

Employee disengagement:

Stress eventually leads to employee disengagement. 71% of employees are not engaged.

High turnover rate:

Stress and disengagement cause up to 40% of workers to seek employment elsewhere.

Increased absenteeism and error rate:

With the best and brightest employees leaving and the remaining disengaged workers, employees tend to have more errors and sick days.

HOW SOUND MASKING WORKS

Sound Travels

Like light, sound is a wave and spreads out in all directions from a source. Hard surfaces reflect it, walls block it, and soft surfaces absorb it. Other sounds can cover it up. But unimpeded, sound can travel pretty far.

Ever hear the saying, “it’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop?” The reason you can “hear a pin drop” over distances is that there is nothing to cover or otherwise impede the sound from being detected by your ears.

Achieving Speech Privacy: Start With The ABC's

Absorb, Block, and Cover – “The ABC’s” – represent the three ways you can improve your acoustic environment and achieve necessary privacy levels.

(As we Know)

Absorb - using acoustic panels or dividers can absorb distracting sounds as well as cut down on visual distractions.

Block - installing partitions can reduce both acoustic and visual distractions.

Cover - adding a source of unstructured, low-level background sound with a modern, adaptive sound masking system can cover distracting noise and increase speech privacy. 

Most office environments will require some combination of these three tools to provide an acoustically pleasing atmosphere. In most cases, no one tool by itself will solve your privacy needs. While Covering provides the greatest increase in privacy per dollar invested, it typically should be used in conjunction with the proper mixture of Absorption and Blocking components in order to achieve specific speech privacy levels.

Common Misunderstandings

common misunderstandings are that sound masking is the same thing as noise cancellation. This isn't true. Another common misunderstanding is that you put the sound masking where the offending sound is coming from. This also isn't true.

The ROI of Sound Masking

It’s no secret that distracted workers cost your business money. It’s a subtle leak that virtually every business has, and according to BASEX studies, it costs businesses like yours an estimated $587 billion. On the other hand, by making simple and inexpensive improvements to your offices’ acoustics, you can realize dramatic productivity increases with the workers you already have.

How Much Will Privacy Cost Me?

There are a number of ingredients to help you achieve your privacy goals, and each "privacy recipe" should be tailored to your environment and budget. Whether you're treating a small office or an entire facility, one thing is clear: it's a small investment for the very real and measurable ROI gains you'll realize!

In an ideal world where cost was not a factor, you'd employ elements of all three of the ABCs and crank your Privacy Index score up somewhere near 100%. However, cost does matter, so the trick is to maximize your Privacy Index score while minimizing the cost. Starting with the right sound masking system as a Covering solution and acoustic panels to contribute to sound absorption and blocking will give you the "most bang for your buck."

This is the best place to start. Then, if additional privacy is still needed, other costlier options can be employed.

Masking Volume Adjustments

VoiceArrest Controllers

A customer is the most important visitor to our offices, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.

Ray Sandoval - Communication Technologies Inc. LLC