Framery office pods ensure that speech privacy happens within an office.

Why Speech Privacy Matters and How to Improve It

Is your office designed to protect speech privacy and promote focused work? Here’s why speech privacy matters and what you can do to improve it.

Audible conversations in an open-plan environment are the most common distraction and hindrance to productivity. Therefore, many companies have ensured that their offices are equipped with additional soundproofing, private spaces for quiet and distraction-free work, and meeting rooms for confidential conversations. Being able to work in quiet is only one benefit of good office design; it also improves speech privacy and prevents private conversations from being overheard.

Key highlights

  • Speech privacy in the office enables communication without the risk of being overheard by others. It also protects employees from getting distracted by audible conversations.
  • A well-planned office is designed for optimal speech privacy to minimize the transmission of sound, for example, through the placement of office furniture, soundproofing measures and technology, such as sound masking systems.
  • Sound masking improves speech privacy by introducing a background noise that reduces the intelligibility of speech and masks distracting sounds. The sound is optimized to mask other audible sounds without becoming a distraction itself.

Speech privacy promotes confidentiality and well-being at work

In the office setting, speech privacy refers to communicating without the risk of being overheard by an unintentional listener. Ensuring strong speech privacy is all the more valuable when discussing confidential matters, such as information about financial information or trade secrets. Additionally, some employees might be more comfortable sharing their thoughts and conversing with others in private, regardless of the topic.

Lack of speech privacy also exposes employees to conversations and information they were not meant to hear. Regardless of what is being said, overhearing audible conversations is enough to hinder one’s productivity and focus. This, in turn, can have a host of negative effects on the employee, such as difficulty concentrating and inability to recover during the workday.

Not all office noise is created equal

Interestingly, lack of speech privacy may be more harmful to well-being at work than office noise itself. In fact, a certain level of noise is good for us as long as what other people say is not audible enough to catch our attention. 

A study conducted by Turku University of Applied Sciences and the University of Turku shows that being exposed to irrelevant speech for just under an hour increases stress, even at moderate sound levels. This, the researchers say, is because our brains try to interpret what is being said when we hear someone speak. When working with words and numbers, being exposed to irrelevant speech content hinders work efficiency in tasks requiring working memory. 

The study identified notable signs of stress and decreased performance in the test subjects, although they were exposed to irrelevant speech for less than an hour. The effects are likely even greater after prolonged exposure – such as an entire workday.

Framery office pods promote speech privacy with industry-leading soundproofing. Nothing said inside a Framery pod or booth will be overheard outside, even when placed near workstations around the office. Smart pods equipped with the innovative Framery Sound Masking System improve speech privacy not just inside the pod but throughout the entire office by producing a subtle ambient noise that makes other sounds less audible.

Explore all Framery pods

The importance of speech privacy at the office

  • Confidentiality: Office work entails sensitive discussions concerning employees’ private information, trade secrets and confidential matters disclosed by clients. Maintaining speech privacy is a requirement to keep such conversations protected, mitigating compliance and legal concerns.
  • Concentration: Open office environments, in particular, challenge employees’ ability to stay focused. Lack of speech privacy can make cognitively demanding tasks needlessly difficult. Solutions that improve speech privacy, such as sound masking technology, minimize distractions while improving focus and productivity.
  • Collaboration: Whether working with colleagues face to face or over a video connection, speech privacy is essential to enable collaborative work. Adequate speech privacy ensures that discussions and brainstorming sessions among coworkers are safe from prying ears.
  • Employee wellbeing: Excessive noise and constant interruptions are a real burden for all office workers, hindering their productivity, creativity and recovery. Once distracted, it can take up to 20 minutes to regain focus.

Sound masking solutions improve speech privacy

One solution for improving speech privacy is introducing white noise to make other sounds in the environment less audible and, therefore, less distracting. However, the problem with white noise is that it only replaces other sounds with an even louder one, therefore contributing even more to the otherwise noisy environment. Sound masking is a more discrete and less distracting alternative for improving speech privacy throughout the office.

The Framery Sound Masking System creates a subtle background noise that is too quiet to notice yet optimized to make conversations and other sounds less intelligible. A sound masking system embedded in Framery One Compact, Framery Four and Framery Six smart pods produces unnoticeable sound 5m / 16 ft outside the pods. 

The Framery Sound Masking System does wonders, especially in open-plan offices where the pods can be scattered throughout the office for extensive coverage. Combining sound masking technology with Framery pods and distributing them throughout the office provides significant benefits.

Framery Office Sound Masking System™

FAQ about speech privacy

What is speech privacy?

Speech privacy in an office setting enables employees to discuss confidential and private matters without the fear of being overheard. It also prevents work-related conversations from disturbing others’ concentration and exposing them to information they were not intended to hear.

Why is speech privacy important in the office?

Speech privacy in the office is essential for fostering productivity, ensuring that confidential matters are not exposed to unauthorized personnel, and promoting employee well-being. Meanwhile, a lack of speech privacy can lead to distractions, confidentiality breaches, and unintended disturbances.

Does a sound masking system improve speech privacy?

Speech privacy at the office helps to protect confidential company information and other sensitive matters. Whereas sound masking eliminates distractions by making speech from further away unintelligible, office pods provide privacy by blocking external sounds. They also prevent discussions had inside the pod from being overheard by others nearby. Therefore, office pods are more effective at protecting sensitive conversations, while sound masking helps to reduce noise distractions.

Get started today

Design your own

Customize your pod and make it your own with our pod configurator.

Get a quote

Find your nearest representative to hear about pricing and get a quote for your project.

Try a pod

Visit one of our global showrooms to try any of our Framery pods for yourself.