Sound ideas: aligning acoustics and productivity for the new world of work
A new research report by EPOS and WORKTECH Academy explores the future of employee communication and the role of voice in an increasingly hybrid workforce
Flexible new ways of working have opened a wealth of opportunities for organisations to reimagine how their workplace could look to meet the demands of their workforce in the future. For the most part, this is an exciting and unique moment for companies looking to create a more agile and resilient approach to the future of work, but it does not come without its challenges.
A new report, What Will The Post Covid-19 Workplace Sound Like? Acoustics, Productivity and the Future of Work, by acoustic experts EPOS and WORKTECH Academy explores the parameters of workplace performance and how acoustics and productivity can be enhanced for the ‘work anywhere’ workforce.
The report draws on the latest scientific and industry research to identify the key drivers and components of productivity and performance in the workplace. The research suggests that there is an inter-relationship of three key factors that are critical to raising company performance and individual productivity: leadership, environment and technology. Each factor has remained a constant driver for organisations throughout the pandemic.
Leadership focuses on how different approaches can be taken to motivate, engage and effectively manage a diverse team; environmental factors consider health and wellbeing and acoustic privacy; and technology explores how digital tools can enable a hybrid and remote workforce.
The sound of productivity
There is one common opportunity to improve across every channel of working: acoustics. The open plan office concept has been criticised for noise and distraction. However, with the increase in video calls in multi-person households, noise complaints are also being fielded in home environments. This means that organisations have an opportunity to explore their acoustic strategy for employees from a holistic perspective – they can create a strategy that implements a standard so that there is acoustic equality for every employee.
Before now, employees were stuck in a Catch-22 scenario where bad audio or acoustic settings meant that individuals had to speak louder to be heard on video and audio calls; this in turn would create a more disturbing background noise for other workers in close proximity which would cause them to speak louder to be heard, and the cycle continued…
The report explores how companies can break this cycle with the right acoustic strategy and digital equipment. EPOS has conducted research on the impact of brain fatigue and on enhancing communication. The report sets out this research and offers solutions for organisations to integrate into their work environments to provide everyone with the right acoustic tools.
The way ahead
The report concludes with three key directions for the future of employee performance. From rethinking the communication experience to addressing acoustic equality there are many opportunities – and solutions – for organisations to consider as they use this moment in time to reimagine the future of their workplace.
The three opportunities for enhancing employee productivity include: rethinking the meeting experience, addressing acoustic equality and using voice activation devices.
As so many company meetings have migrated onto virtual platforms, the laptop and the professional headset now set the scene for a meeting instead of a physical meeting space. This means that there is an opportunity to re-evaluate the meeting experience – and acoustics play a vital part in the productivity of collaboration and communication.
‘Audio and voice will be critical to all activities associated with collaboration…’
The opportunity to rethink the meeting experience goes hand in hand with acoustic equality. In order for effective work to take place, employees need to at least start in the same sound environment. Organisations can level the playing field for every employee by equipping them with the right audio technology to enhance communication and block out noise distractions.
And finally, the rise of voice-activated technology was already on the horizon before Covid-19. The post-pandemic reluctance to touch shared surfaces will see this trend skyrocket to the forefront of the digital agenda. In the future of communication, audio and voice will be critical to all activities associated with collaboration and productivity.
The report highlights key opportunities and solutions for organisations to consider as they move into the next phase of work for a more flexible and distributed workforce. It was launched on 11 February 2021 with a WORKTECH webinar featuring Jesper Kock, vice president of research and development for EPOS, in conversation with Jeremy Myerson, director of WORKTECH Academy.