White noise benefits

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Health Assured team

23 January 2020

Offices can be loud. The trend toward open-plan means that everyone can hear everyone else. And when there are phones ringing, people chatting and clients visiting, the hubbub can get overwhelming.

Some people with certain mental health conditions find loud environments distracting. ADHD sufferers, those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and people with stress-related anxiety are likely to find noise they can’t control difficult to deal with. Not to mention the difficulties faced by people with misophonia.

There are ways to combat this though—better ways than just demanding everyone is quiet. Listening to white noise while working can help. But what exactly is white noise?

How does white noise work?

Put simply, it is a random signal, with equal intensity of frequencies between 20Hz and 20,000Hz—the thresholds of human hearing. Put even more simply, it’s that ‘pshhhhh’ sound you find on websites like Mynoise or Freewhitenoise.

Other colours of noise, such as brown noise or pink noise, concentrate on different frequencies. And harsh noise, like Incapacitants, probably doesn’t help much (but that’s a different story entirely.)

The idea is that this random spread of frequencies blocks out external sound, and is difficult for the hyperactive mind to fixate on. It provides a calming effect, not unlike mindfulness or meditation. Studies have shown that white noise helps concentration in adults with dementia—its calming properties can work in the office, too.

How do I use white noise at work?

There are a couple of ways:

  • Headphones—allowing people to wear headphones at their desks is a good way, but you’ll have to concede that not everyone will be listening to just white noise. Some of them might even have that Incapacitants track from earlier on—it’s difficult to check, after all.
  • Office sound masking—this is a system of concealed speakers that produce a tone similar to the frequencies of human speech—or white noise. The idea is to ‘mask’ speech and other sounds, causing them to travel less distance in an office environment.

What are the benefits of white noise at work?

There are several great reasons to use white noise for work:

  • Better productivity—office noise can be distracting, and using white noise for productivity is a way to stop some of that distraction. When you can hear less conversation from the other side of the office, you’re more likely to concentrate on your own tasks.
  • More privacy—when conversations don’t travel, fewer people overhear them. Great for sensitive information.
  • Reduced stress and distraction—we all have that one guy in the office who insists on using his mechanical keyboard. And while he says­ the switches are quiet, we know all too well that they’re not. Masking sounds like keypresses, ticking clocks and people walking by is a great way to reduce distraction—and stress, meaning white noise helps mental health improve.
  • Less anxiety—a key part of misophonia is the inability to control the sounds around you. Masking sounds with white noise helps anxiety—if sounds are blocked, a sufferer isn’t worrying and anticipating the next attack.

A white noise masking system isn’t going to solve all your problems overnight, but it’s a good start. If you have any questions about noise in the office—white or otherwise—contact us today on 0844 892 2493

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