Though often associated with sounds like crunching footsteps, roaring snowmobiles, scraping shovels and crashing toboggans, as I stepped outside after a recent storm, I was immediately reminded about just how peaceful it can be when there’s a thick new blanket of the white stuff on the ground.
I’d like to expand on my last post (Out, Damned Spot!) by breaking down some barriers…or, rather, by talking about why you can’t simply rely on walls to provide speech privacy and noise control in private offices.
If you have an office, your level of acoustic satisfaction is likely higher than that of your coworkers in cubicles (and definitely better than those in open desk or benching environments), but in many cases, noise and lack of privacy to adjoining rooms still interfere with your ability to do your job. You either have to put up with the conversations and activities taking place outside your door…or shut it and risk being seen as anti-social.
In an article for December’s issue of Sound & Communications, I tackle the belief that sound masking shouldn't be used in closed rooms such as private offices – an idea firmly rooted in the early 1970's, when the technology was first adopted to deal with noise in a rising number of open plan spaces.
At that time, most sound masking systems used a centralized architecture, which is really limited in terms of its ability to offer local control over volume and frequency. This technical impediment affected the masking’s performance in closed rooms, as well as the comfort of their occupants. Vendors and unhappy clients came to the conclusion that it simply couldn't be applied in these areas.
I've recently read a few interesting articles on the non-auditory factors involved in determining the degree of annoyance or disturbance we experience when we hear a sound...in other words, what turns ‘a sound’ into ‘a noise.’
One of these is the way we feel about the sound itself. After all, you can crank the volume for one of your favourite songs and though the decibel reading might not mean good things for your hearing down the road if you do it too often, the sound itself doesn't cause you any distress. In fact, you wouldn't even call it ‘noise,’ whereas someone who doesn't like that particular song might.
As annoyed as many of us feel when we get a sales call in the middle of dinner (or, in my mother’s case, the middle of one of her favorite TV shows, Coronation Street), the people who work in contact centers are also the ones to whom we turn when we have a problem.