Multiple studies conducted by Steelcase, a global leader in office architecture, furniture and technology solutions, make clear that companies must address several key employee expectations regarding workplace conditions to help the ongoing transition back to the office in our COVID-influenced new normal.
The studies’ results, which are disseminated in Steelcase’s recent “Global Report: Changing Expectations and the Future of Work,” provide interesting insights and helpful calls-to-action for employers worldwide that are already in return-to-work mode or who plan to bring their workforces back to the office in the near future.
According to the report, “After spending months at home during a crisis, workers have never been more in touch with what they want from their work and workplace. They have new and increased expectations of their employers and workplaces — desiring a dramatically different and better experience than the one they left.”
Two of the “critical employee needs” identified in the report, “Productivity” and “Comfort,” are of particular interest with regard to the well-known benefits of sound masking: reduced noise distractions, increased speech privacy, and enhanced workplace comfort.
According to the report, “Pre-pandemic, people struggled in offices if they didn’t have the right levels of privacy to allow them to do focused work. Now, there’s a lot of conjecture that people will come back to the office solely for group activities and collaboration. But the data show employees and leaders want workplaces to support individual focus work as well as collaboration” (emphasis added).
Of the ten countries included in the Steelcase studies, nine rank a “quiet, professional environment” among the top five reasons for wanting to return to the workplace (emphasis added).
There are numerous interesting and informative findings in the report, but the most important takeaway is that sound masking clearly addresses two of the key areas of focus: the needs for workplace environments to be both productive and comfortable.
As a sidenote, many people confuse sound masking with “white noise” or “pink noise,” which do not increase speech privacy or reduce noise distractions. Whereas sound masking output is engineered to cover, or “mask,” a specific frequency spectrum that matches the average human vocal range.
Check out Biamp’s Sound Masking Solutions site for more information about the many benefits of our Cambridge sound masking technologies.