The different levels of acoustical privacy are confidential privacy, normal privacy and transitional privacy. Confidential privacy means coworkers can overhear muffled words, but the meaning of the spoken message is not intelligible and they are not distracted from their own work. Normal privacy means that some sentences are intelligible to other workers, but the volume of the speech is not distracting to them and they can may continue to work on their task. Transitional privacy means coworkers can overhear most words, most sentences are intelligible, and distracting to them; their concentration is disrupted, stress results, and work performance is significantly decreased.
There are many other factors for office noise which aggravate workers and may invade their privacy. Phones ringing and face to face conversations are two of the most aggravating for workers.
There are a number of products and arrangements that can improve the acoustical privacy for workers. Carpet can help absorb sound as opposed to hard floors which reflect it. Acoustical Ceiling tiles can help absorb sound and reduce reverb. Ceiling clouds are a decorative way to absorb sound. Wall panels are another way to absorb sound and reduce reverb but if you have noisy elements in place you will need to block sound not just absorb it.
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