Speech Privacy: What Is It And Why Is It So Important?

Have you ever overheard something that you shouldn’t have? You weren’t listening in on purpose; you just happened to be nearby when the conversation turned towards the private. It’s immensely frustrating. What’s worse is that this is how many employees feel every day.
Being in close proximity to dozens — or even hundreds — of people every day means that your private speech and the private speech of others is constantly at risk of becoming public. That’s why speech privacy is such a major concern in the workplace. Here’s what you need to know about speech privacy — starting with what it is and ending with how you can achieve it.

What Is Speech Privacy?
Speech privacy is the ability of a person to speak without any unintended listeners overhearing their conversation. This also goes the other way. Employees find it annoying to be the unintended listener, having to hear conversation after conversation that isn’t relevant to their work. Obviously, this can have major ramifications in the workplace. Some have even gone as far as calling it a “crisis”. Here’s why it’s such a big concern.

What A Lack Of Speech Privacy Costs You
Being unable to speak with any privacy and being unable to work without constant chatter is stressful for employees. Employees who need to share sensitive information or speak with a customer about private matters must constantly look over their shoulders to be sure that no one can hear. Employees who just want to do their work are unwillingly privy to conversations that they shouldn’t be hearing. In fact, a study done by Udemy shows that talkative coworkers are the number one workplace distraction.

It’s not just a concern for employees. What about the clients they work with? Would you trust a business if you knew that your private information could be easily overheard by people who shouldn’t have it?

So, you’ve got less productive employees and unhappy customers. As a business, this is unacceptable. Fortunately, there are ways to protect sensitive workplace conversations.

Achieving Speech Privacy In Your Workplace
So, now that you know why speech privacy is so important; how can you achieve it? There are a number of ways to approach this, but not all of them are equally viable.

  • Sound Absorption – Sound absorption is the process of absorbing a sound using a soft, porous surface. Its primary use is to enhance the acoustical quality of a space. You’d be more likely to see it in a music studio than an office.
  • Sound Blocking – Sound blocking makes use of dense materials like concrete and metal in order to block out sound completely.
  • Sound Masking – Sound masking is the most subtle — and effective — of your options. Instead of simply absorbing or blocking the sound, sound masking uses noise in a finely tuned frequency spectrum to reduce distractions and dampen human speech.

Sound absorption and sound blocking can be used effectively in some situations, but when your goal is to increase speech privacy they generally aren’t the way to go. What you need is sound masking.

Sound masking uses noise in frequencies that closely match human speech to render it unintelligible. Unlike more structured noise — take music for example — the noise used in sound masking blends into the background, doing its job without being overbearing.

To find out more about how sound masking can benefit your business please contact us at Atlantic Communications Team today.