During the pandemic, working from a home—a previously uncommon, yet desirable, perk—became a reality for millions of people. And although offices around the world are currently reopening, numerous organizations have declared that both remote and hybrid working arrangements are here to stay.
While working from home certainly has benefits, a lot of people find themselves struggling to concentrate in their new workplace. After all, many do not have the luxury of a private work area and have had to “set up camp” in kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and basements. They are now looking for spaces that are not only free of noise and distractions, but ones that will provide them with a greater sense of separation between their jobs and personal lives.
Hotels have pivoted to meet these needs, transforming WFH from “work from home” into “work from hotel.” In many respects, it is a logical shift. After all, guestrooms are already equipped with workplace amenities such as chairs, desks and internet access. These spaces also have a lot to offer from the perspective of health and safety: each has its own restroom, coffee/tea and snack bar and, in some cases, in-room fitness equipment.
Several brands have committed to “workspitality” by launching day-pass programs offering discounted rooms during the standard 9-to-5 workweek. Some have moved beds out of—and extra seating into—rooms, which helps guests feel even more “at work.” However, many properties are still missing a key element of the WFH equation. While guests are seeking environments conducive to focus work, noise remains one of the top complaints within the hospitality industry.
Why do so many properties still struggle to find an effective solution for this problem? According to Matthew Carter, division lead – hotels, MODIO Guestroom Acoustic Control, it is “because they continue using the same techniques to try to control noise. Traditional methods using structure and décor do help address particular issues, but they also intensify a common underlying problem that tends to surprise those unfamiliar with the mechanics of acoustics: guest rooms have very low ambient levels of only 28 to 32 A-weighted decibels (dBA).”
To borrow a phrase from the automotive industry, occupants are essentially “going from 0 to 60” each time there is an acoustical disturbance within these “pin-drop” environments. In fact, given the low baseline level, they are easily disturbed by all kinds of noises, even those no greater than 40 dBA (to put that in context, a typical conversation is between 50 and 60 dBA). “So, while adding more sound might seem to contradict the goal of reducing noise, guests can actually be made more comfortable by increasing their room’s background sound level in a controlled way, using a commercial-grade sound masking technology,” Carter adds.
Sound masking produces a continuous background sound—similar to softly blowing air, but tuned to a specific spectrum—that either completely covers up noises or reduces their disruptive effect on guests by minimizing the amount of change they experience within their acoustical environment. With this technology, occupants can control their room’s ambience the same way they control its temperature and lighting. They can adjust the background sound level according to personal preference or as needed to cover disturbances, creating a more effective working environment during the day. If guests stay overnight, they will also benefit from the greatly improved sleeping conditions.
This information was contributed by K.R. Moeller Associates Ltd., designer and manufacturer of MODIO Guestroom Acoustic Control sound masking technology. To learn more about MODIO, or to request a demo, visit www.modio.audio.