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Can sound masking help quiet offices with the return to work?

Can sound masking help quiet offices with the return to work?


With the return to work drawing nearer for many businesses, occupancy rates are likely to be reduced, as more companies opt for flexible or phased working.

But, can sound masking help quiet offices with the return to work? The short answer to this question is yes, but that would make a very short post if that’s all we said. Firstly, we’ll talk a little bit more about what sound masking is and how it works.

What is Sound Masking?

Sound masking is a technology that originally derived from white noise, but it has significantly developed since it was first introduced into an office environment. Whereas white noise emits sounds that covers all frequencies, sound masking is engineered to only use the frequencies found in the human voice.

This means sound masking will cover any voices and doesn’t have a high pitch and loud frequencies, which can often make white noise irritating and distracting. Another reason for sound masking being so effective for speech privacy and productivity is the way it is installed into an environment. Sound masking is installed to create a completely immersive sound, it is strategically installed into the treated environment to ensure that the sound is immersive, and therefore less distracting.

How can sound masking help a quiet office?

Traditionally, sound masking is introduced into an office environment to help with noisy workspaces. The technology diffuses any noise distractions in an open plan office and / or meeting space. Sound masking systems are also well known for their privacy benefits; as they are tuned to the same frequency as the human voice it means that - when installed - the technology has the ability to cover any voices traveling in or out of a space, increasing the privacy of the treated area.

For an office where there aren’t so many people, we can often have the opposite issue. Rather than the workspace being too noisy, it can often be too quiet. This can also have negative effects on a person’s wellbeing and productivity in the office.

With a quiet office, sudden noises are more noticeable, which can be more distracting for office workers. Sudden noises could even be startling, leading in to spikes of increased heart rate, putting them on edge and even increasing anxiety. Another issue with quieter offices is that employees are often too nervous to talk on the phone or have an important private conversation, of fear of being overheard.When sound masking is installed into a quiet office, it acts as an ambient layer of sound for employees to adhere to. Providing this acoustic layer will assist with the overall comfort levels of the office. It helps diffuse background noises like loud typing on keyboards, clicking of pens, sudden noises like a door banging, and that one colleague who has very loud telephone conversations.

Soundscapes for Offices

Another great addition to the office to increase wellbeing and productivity is soundscapes. A soundscape system can be installed on its own, but when combined with sound masking, they can have even better results - especially when using sounds of nature. Biophilic soundscapes are ambient nature-sound installed and can help improve focus, stimulation and relaxation. They are a great way of bringing the outdoors in, providing effective acoustic zones within the office with optional different working environments, for the wellbeing benefits of your employees.

There’s been a huge amount of research looking into the sounds of nature and the effect it has on productivity. Even when compared to silence, those exposed to biophilic sound performed better while also showing evidence of improved restoration.

What Next?

We’re very passionate about our sound masking installations at Remark Group, as no one project is the same. Sound masking is bespoke to the environment and the occupants needs: we work with you from the initial design concept, all the way through to the commissioning to ensure that the levels match the unique requirements of the environment. Our specialist Acoustic Technicians will give their honest and knowledgeable advice to ensure you receive the perfect solution for your workplace.

Want to experience sound masking or soundscapes in a live environment first? Get in touch and book a demonstration at our demonstration facilities based in Peterborough.

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