Nov. 3, 2022 - Speech privacy impacts three topics of concern: Direct Conversation, Productivity, and Privacy Laws. Do you ever feel like your sensitive conversations are being overheard unwarranted by those around you? Are you ever annoyed because you can overhear a conversation when you are trying to accomplish a task? The last time you sat in your doctor's exam room, could you hear conversation in the next room that made you uncomfortable about what might be interpreted about your own health when the nurse or doctor came in to examine you? On a daily basis we might not think about speech privacy as a concern. But speech privacy impacts our daily activities and behaviors more than we think.
What is Speech Privacy?
Speech privacy is the ability to have a conversation without unintended audience understanding what is being said. Not everything we discuss is confidential but that doesn't mean we want others listening in to what we are saying. This is certainly the case when we are engaged in legal-, human resources- or health-related discussions. To read more about "What Is Speech Privacy" click here.
Why is it Important to Protect Speech Privacy?
There are times when conversations need to be confidential. There are specific laws in place for healthcare (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act – HIPPA) as well as financial institutions (Graam-Leach-Bliley Act – GLBA) with the intention of protecting your vital information; these laws contain requirements in both electronic and verbal communications. However, more than just the law, there are times we may have personal or professional information which is necessary to maintain confidentiality around. From promotions to RiFFs. Strategy to scandal. Or maybe just what is going on at home. There are times we don't need everyone around us knowing our business.
Most people assume that when we discuss speech privacy we are most concerned about our conversations being overhead by unintended
listeners. This is true but so is the flip-case. An unintentional listener doesn't necessarily want to hear another person's conversation. Indirect conversations that can be understood are distracting and pull individuals away from their own work. If an indirect listener can interpret more than twenty percent of an indirect conversation they will become distracted and interested in what is being said. This is unproductive. A significant part of speech privacy is to minimize distraction and maximize productivity by creating a comfortable and functional workplace. Productivity can improve by reducing the level of understood speech which will also result in more work satisfaction because of the higher quality of output.
How Sound Masking Helps Confidential Conversations Stay Private?
Sound masking is the introduction of a gentle noise into the space, just above indirect speech volume levels, in order to cover, or mask, those conversations. Sound masking is not a cone of silence but rather the opposite – it raises the background noise level in order to make it seem quieter, or less distracting. This improves speech privacy and increases productivity.
For this very purpose, sound masking goes where the ears are located. This makes sense that we would want to mask the conversation from being understood by the unintended listener, in this case, the ears! Sound masking works through the use of specially engineered frequencies within the human speech frequency range combined with a decibel (dB), or volume, level that is slightly above the indirect speech level. This combination, in effect, creates speech privacy. In order to obtain true confidentiality, less than 5% of the conversation can be interpreted – which usually requires a slightly higher volume level of masking. To better understand this concept see "What is Sound Masking" and "How Does Sound Masking Work."
Other Benefits of Sound Masking
Create a Comfortable Environment
The primary purpose of sound masking is to provide speech privacy and productivity. It can help protect you by providing proactive means to support privacy laws. But it can also improve the overall work environment. As described above, specific frequencies are necessary to mask human speech but that is not where speech privacy systems should stop. Through the introduction of lower frequencies, often referred to as Pink Noise, sound masking systems can add a level of comfort to the space. Especially in the post-pandemic world when offices and healthcare environments will purposefully contain less occupants than the space was designed for. The introduction of this comfortable sound will make the space "feel" more comfortable. And this is for corporate office, call centers, financial institutions, legal facilities, healthcare spaces and more.
Reduce Noise Distractions
The bi-product of sound masking is taking you from the library where you can be distracted by the tapping of a pen or the whispering conversation and puts you into the hustle and bustle of the coffee shop. Sitting in that coffee shop you know that there is activity around you but you are not distracted by it. You can still search social media, get an email out or work on a presentation without the distractions. A quality speech privacy systems delivers more for the building occupant by cutting down noise distractions.
Improve Employee (and Patient) Satisfaction
There is no argument against a comfortable, private and productive work environment. This is an employee's nirvana! It is a place to do your best work. Speech privacy sound masking solutions increase employee satisfaction because it allows them to be productive with little distraction. The same is true on the healthcare side where sound masking has proven to improve HCAHPS scores for patients privacy, specifically in the "Quietness Around Patient Rooms At Night."
How Can Lencore Sound Masking Optimize Your Office Acoustics and Improve Productivity?
Sound masking is the introduction of noise into a space in order to make it more productive by reducing the amount of distractions. Lencore sound masking systems produce a comfortable noise, blending white and pink frequencies, into the space at a level slightly above indirect speech levels (around 47-48 decibels.) This technique minimizes the level of distraction caused by the collaborative discussion occurring 10-12 feet away. Sound masking solutions reduces the percentage of the conversation that the unintended listener(s) can understand and allow them to focus on their independent work – making them more productive while maintaining workplace privacy.
Lencore has helped thousands of clients and has millions of square feet installed around the world. These clients come from a variety of different verticals – you see a snapshot of our various clients here!
Furthermore, Lencore prides ourselves on the ease of doing business. By providing a simple floor plan and answer a few relevant design questions, Lencore will help guide you through the decision process. We provide options based on your space and do not constrain ourselves based on our system restrictions. We design what is right for your environment and can assist with installation, tuning and balancing through our expert, certified network. We will provide a quote and design layout – at no cost to you! If you would like to know more about Lencore's Guide to Choosing a Sound Masking System you can see it here – or just ask us! We are happy to help.