Sound masking is an increasingly popular option for businesses to combat noisy work environments and protect their client’s sensitive information. Industries ranging from call centers to law firms and financial companies are enjoying the benefits of a quieter work environment that increases productivity and provides workers with a more pleasant work area. Continue reading
Sounds masking can decrease indoor atmospheric noise, increase privacy, or reduce noise from outside sources. This can be useful in almost any business, but some industries can particularly benefit from sound masking technology and frequently use it to increase worker productivity and secure private information.
Some popular uses of sound masking include:
- Medical facilities unfortunately suffer from a loud atmosphere that can interfere with patient comfort and recovery. Chatter, alarms, pages, and other sounds contribute to the noise and can keep patients from resting. Sound masking has been proven to be extremely effective in reducing problematic hospital noise and providing patients with a quieter atmosphere that can have a direct impact on recovery, as well as providing privacy to patients.
- Law firms often handle sensitive information, including interviews with clients and confidential discussions. In addition, a busy office may include dozens of staff members bustling around on cases, which can quickly become loud.
- Government and other facilities that regularly deal with confidential information are obvious candidates for sound masking. Military installations and other areas have used this technology for decades.
- Call centers can include dozens or even hundreds of employees talking in close proximity to each other. Sounds masking can help with reducing distractions to other employees, improving productivity and worker morale.
- Banks are typically quiet areas, but clients will often discuss sensitive personal or financial information. Privacy and confidentiality can be greatly increased with sound masking.
- Libraries are renowned for quiet atmospheres, but large numbers of patrons can make it difficult to maintain a low level of noise. Especially at universities, where research is frequently conducted and students need to focus, sound masking can create a much more conducive environment.
- A wide range of corporate offices currently use sound masking, from Disney to Microsoft. Companies with large offices can provide a more productive atmosphere and reduce worker stress by providing calming sound masking.
The benefits of sound masking technology are well established and can be used in a number of ways. With technology constantly developing, sound masking stands to become even more widely used by companies around the globe.
Hospitals are intended to be havens of health and restoration, but among the factors contributing to patient dissatisfaction, high noise levels continues to be the most common complaint. A study conducted by the University of Chicago revealed that hospitals universally featured noise levels above the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 30 dB, even at night. The study reported that the same patients slept significantly less while in the hospital than they would in their homes. Further, the majority of the problematic sounds originated in staff conversation, accounting for 65% of noise disruptions reported by patients. Other sounds included alarms, pagers, intercoms, and roommates.
This reduced sleep can contribute to a number of health problems, included elevated heart rate upon waking, an overall increase in blood pressure, and a generally longer healing period. Patients have reported feeling less at ease and unable to rest meaningfully, making recovery more difficult.
In 2012, Medicare began docking hospitals a portion of their reimbursement payments based on patient’s ratings of the quality of the care they received. Among these ratings, noise complaints have consistently represented the lowest satisfaction score, with only 60% of patients stating that their room was acceptably quiet at night. With these financial consequences and general concerns over patient care growing, many hospitals have begun taking steps to address noise issues.
Working to Reduce Hospital Noise
Among the efforts to reduce troublesome noise levels, wireless technology has emerged as an option to replace alarms and pages from medical equipment, as well and inter-personnel communication, as doctors and nurses are equipped with mobile headsets that can be directly signaled. Some hospitals are forming “quiet teams” to identify how the facility can reduce noise, while some are providing patients with Quiet Kits containing ear plugs, face masks, and Do Not Disturb signs.
Another popular option focuses on soundscaping, also known as sound masking, which uses white noise and other techniques to improve sounds, rather than eliminating them. By turning the inevitable buzz of hospital activity into indistinct white noise, the atmosphere will allow patients to relax and rest more easily.
Other measures include installing a noise meter resembling a traffic light, with green, yellow, and red lights alerting staff and visitors to the volume of the area. Some hospitals have started requesting that patients fill out a “Sleep Menu”, denoting their sleeping preferences and providing the options for warm blankets and aromatherapy.
There’s no debate over the importance of sleep. Healthcare professionals agree that sleep is one of the most imperative elements in keeping the body healthy and recovering from an illness or injury. How to ensure that patients get this much needed rest, however, is a subject of more debate. Hopefully these efforts to reduce troublesome noise for hospital patients will gradually result in a more beneficial atmosphere.
A wide number of studies have been performed on the effects of noise in an office environment. In addition to general annoyance, conversation and other distractions can have a profound effect on worker morale and productivity. Sound masking techniques were developed as a way to counteract this problematic effect for businesses around the world. Although this service may sound superfluous, there are a number of benefits to this technology that have created an increasing demand for the various types of available sound masking.
The Benefits of Sound Masking Include:
- Reduce Distractions – through cancelling out conversations, traffic, and other background sounds, workers are better able to focus on their tasks. Studies have shown that worker productivity can be affected by up to 40% due to noise distractions.
- Privacy – important client information is protected from being overheard and customers can feel more confident in your business, knowing that you take discretion with their information seriously.
- Reduce Stress – white noise and other background sounds have been shown to have a calming effect on many individuals, helping your employees enjoy a more relaxed atmosphere and reducing the likelihood of mental fatigue and burnout, which can lead to increased turnover rates.
Cancelling out problematic noise through sound masking creates a more welcoming and productive atmosphere for employees and visitors alike. These benefits can be of great use in a number of businesses, with some of the most common uses including: banks, labs, libraries, call centers, law firms, and hospitals.
Developments in sound masking technology have made it easy for companies to enjoy these benefits without compromising the aesthetic of their offices. Speakers can be easily camouflaged, painted to match the surrounding area, or installed inside the walls themselves. The variety of available speakers and installation options enable businesses to choose a speaker arrangement that fits their office’s needs.
A number of features have also made it easy to reap the maximum benefit from sound masking systems. Ethernet controls allow the channel, volume, and frequency of sound masking to be adjusted from a computer, while some emitters are even equipped with the ability to automatically select from multiple channels to provide the best suited masking for any situation.
The individual benefits to each company can vary widely. If you’d like to know what our sound masking company can do for your Houston business, contact us today and we can discuss your unique needs.