The clear desk policy - and Sound Masking
Happy New Year!
We had a good sort-out over Christmas and cleared a lot of old paper-copies and files.
Now the room feels noticeably more “echoey”, as more than one member of the admin team remarked. It’s not the recommended technical term – “a more live acoustic environment” is what it is. The paper was soaking up sound – now that sound bounces around the clear desks.
It goes to make the point that offices are getting both quieter and relatively more “live” – and you don’t always notice the change.
Desktop PCs and other equipment used to generate quite a significant hum – remember when it was only switch-off at the end of the day that you realized how much?
Now it’s just the photocopier/printer; you actually hear it when somebody repeatedly goes for that one-page and the fan kicks in (over and over).
Why is this lack of background noise a problem? Well, privacy becomes much more of an issue, because now you can hear conversations that didn’t surface before. Some offices now have meeting rooms for private conversations, but that can mean interrupting the flow of productivity if you just want to confer with a colleague next door, or especially if it could have been a quick phone-call.
It’s not just privacy; we’ve all worked in offices where some staff are on the phone all day - it’s their job to talk – while others are trying to CONCENTRATE. The thing with speech is that we’re human, we’re programmed to pick up gossip. What Sound Masking does is prevent speech from being sufficiently louder than the background level, so as to be unintelligible. If you can’t follow the conversation, you’re not disturbed by it.
When time is money, it pays to make interruptions go away.
Some people say “play some music”, but a) no-one can agree WHAT music and b) it’s a public space, so you’d need a PRS licence. You just know somebody would always be complaining.
There is an answer - Sound Masking (or Speech Masking, to be precise).
Do the maths: A small system will be between £4,000 and £7,000, a large open plan office will be a lower cost per head, but either way the lifetime value is there, because even in a smaller office, when you’re losing fifty minutes per person, per week – that lost focus could be costing £100 per week!
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