News & Views
15 May 2021

Working from home (WFH) and the
future of the office: Can the ambience of
a space be manipulated to support
productivity and wellbeing?

COVID-19 has ushered in working from home on a scale which was unthinkable a few years ago. This gives employers and employees a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-imagine the role of the office space. So, how can innovative acoustic consultancies like KP Acoustics help to create soundscapes that promote productivity and wellbeing?

Under the new normal, working from home is here to stay to some degree, with a requirement for smaller centralised office spaces. Technology has provided a means for virtual collaboration, yet many believe that ideas building, creativity and collaborative excellence can only thrive in a face-to-face meeting room environment. It seems that the future world of work will be a hybrid of remote working from home, backed up by days in the office to collaborate and create.

One of the challenges in this hybrid world is of maintaining focus, productivity, creativity and wellbeing in the different workspaces that may include lone working for longer periods.

 So how can physical spaces in both the home and office be re-configured to enhance these various purposes?

Office acoustics: Sophisticated technology and bespoke soundscape design

Research undertaken at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab demonstrates that manipulating an environment can have a powerful effect on our experience and behaviour — including cognitive performance. Companies and individuals now have the opportunity to create new working environments which can optimise different purposes through the dynamic control of light, sound and overall ambience.

By using emerging technologies for spatial augmentation and integrating nonintrusive biosignal sensors, workspaces will be able to self-regulate based on its occupant’s activities.

Using data from realistic work scenarios, the study created personalised occupant response models for accurate control. Think of room acoustics that can provide the engaging focus of a library, yet within an instant, easily transform to provide the creativity of an artist’s studio.

And it’s not just home working environments that can benefit. Take an open plan office space as an example. This noisy area may normally cater for 100 people but could now be operating at a capacity of just half this. The presence of people affects the reverberation time of the office, so the acoustics of a half empty office could be completely thrown off. Adding more soft furnishing could mitigate the reverberation on a basic level, but an expert acoustic consultant could solve this problem much more effectively.

 Through a holistic approach, which takes into account the acoustics of the existing space and by using smart, interactive technology, KP Acoustics can provide a bespoke acoustic identity creating a unique sound-field. Within this process, psychoacoustic factors are considered in addition to elements such as commercial branding, tranquillity, productivity enhancement and immersive user experience.

Working from home is here to stay, but this doesn’t mean that employers should neglect the acoustic factors of their office design. Check out some of our bespoke acoustic treatment and design projects for offices here.

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