Designing for Speech Privacy

Getting speech privacy right in the work place.

People need to be able to hear what they want to hear, when they want to hear it. They also need to know that confidential conversations are protected. Yet, workers continue to identify noise and the lack of speech privacy as leading sources of dissatisfaction in the workplace.

Speech Privacy Basics

Speech privacy is simply the absence of speech intelligibility. Here’s how it works:

If the level of speech sounds that reach a listener’s ear is well above that of any background sound, the speech will be clearly heard and understood, or intelligible.

Privacy, and the ability to concentrate, are essential for individual focus work as well as private collaboration.

But, if speech sounds at the listener’s location are below the background sound level, the speech will not be understood. Even when a listener can hear the muffled speech sounds of someone talking, speech privacy exists because the listener can’t understand what is being said.

Achieving the right level of speech privacy in a space requires careful assessment and alignment of functional needs with the ambient environment, background sound, and physical design elements, such as walls, ceilings, and floors.

Lean more about designing workspaces for speech privacy – Download Haworth’s Workplace Acoustic White Paper

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