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At Area we are constantly seeking out new innovations in office design and with a recent project, we spoke with our associates at BlueSky to provide the ideal client solution.

BlueSky's business provides a unique and revolutionary channel to tackle noise levels at work - more noise. Confused? Here is BlueSky to walk us through the technology...

Acoustic discomfort is the number one factor in worker dissatisfaction. An office which is too quiet or indeed too loud makes focusing on daily tasks much more difficult than it should be.

Some 64% of workers are interrupted 20 times or more a day (Brother Research, UK, 2005). This damning statistic shows us just how worker output and efficiency is compromised by poor acoustics within the workplace.

Can we create an office that isn't too loud, or too quiet?

To find a solution, we should first look at the similar issues in temperature and lighting. When you walk into a space and the temperature is 'just right' - you don't think it is too hot, or too cold.

When you walk into a room and you are not blinded by bright lights, your mind accepts that the lighting is 'just right'. You don't notice these elements, and therefore you can fully focus on what you are there to do. The same happens to sound.

Introducing sound masking... 

Sound masking is the production of a carefully engineered, familiar background sound, which is emitted from speakers above the ceiling and minimises acoustic discomfort. It can be tuned to provide a background sound which covers speech from particularly vocal colleagues who are not within your immediate vicinity.  It also means that you can have a private conversation without having to leave your desk.

If privacy is vital, think legal practice, then sound masking is a cost effective way of achieving it. Robust partitions and structural barriers are very expensive, and sometimes aren't enough to stop sound being heard next door. With sound masking any speech is simply absorbed into the background, whilst the materials and labour required to get this result are significantly reduced.

Does it work?

The notion of introducing a sound to cover another sound may seem like a questionable solution.

The fact is if the right sound masking system is chosen, and more importantly tuned correctly, then as it has no cycle, repetition, or information - and simply doesn't bother us. It's just like walking into a room that isn't too hot, too cold, too bright, or too dark - it simply won't disturb you. In actual fact sound masking is proven to do the exact opposite. There are numerous case studies to show that sound masking improves recovery, relieves stress levels, and in hospitals - such as the Medesto Memorial Hospital in California - is actually used to assist in sleeping (noise is a key complaint in hospital wards).

- by Guenaelle Watson

Sound masking may not be an obvious solution - but you'd be amazed at how effective it can be. What sound problems do you suffer in your workplace? Tell us on Twitter @Areasq

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