The office return has not gone smoothly, stalled by new variants of the COVID-19 virus and hampered by some reluctance on the part of employees. According to data reported by NBC News from job site ZipRecruiter, job advertisements that specify ‘remote’ are now receiving three times the applications of those that do not. Some experts, like Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom, have even claimed the return to the office is dead in the water.
Luring back hesitant workers calls for world-class employee experiences. The future workplace will provide more than free beer taps and foosball tables, transforming offices into places that employees want to spend time. That could mean thinking more deeply about sensory elements, such as how your office sounds.
Arizona-based company Spatial has created a flexible, scalable technology platform that powers immersive three-dimensional virtual sound experiences for real-world spaces, at the fraction of the cost of traditional solutions.
At the SXSW festival in Austin last month, Spatial’s Holodeck experience showcased the power of sound to reshape our sense of place and inspire feelings of comfort, belonging and safety. A live demonstration exposed visitors to the harsh sounds of busy shopping mall, a hospital waiting room, or a chaotic cityscape and then sonically whisked them to an idyllic tropical beach with lapping waves, a rainstorm in a lush forest or the gentle burbling of an underwater lagoon. The technology has compelling applications for the employee experience.
In late 2021, Spatial announced the launch of its first Future of Work Soundscapes, in collaboration with sonic branding company Made Music Studio. Comprising a blend of music and biophilic sound, three soundscapes aim to create the ideal environment for different work modes. A welcome ambience for lobbies and reception spaces creates a sense of warmth and interconnectedness; a focus ambience reduces distraction and inspires relaxation; and an energizing ambience for high-traffic or communal areas encourages optimism and motivation.
Sound has long been an afterthought in workplace design, yet according to research from Made Music, there is an 86% correlation between one’s reaction to sound and a subconscious desire to return to that space. Biophilic sound design has also been shown to improve employee engagement and productivity and could prove a surprising ally in delivering on employee wellness, which continues to push up the agenda.
“As leading companies are rearchitecting the full lifecycle of work and rethinking the purpose of the modern campus with their employees, immersive work design is coming to the forefront,”
Michael Plitkins, cofounder and "Co-Der"* of Spatial, tells Wunderman Thompson Intelligence.
“We look forward to connecting with brands interested in enhancing the employee experience throughout the day. Hybrid work models inherently consider the unique strength of each workplace to maximize creativity, teamwork and performance and our soundscapes deliver enhanced environments in an easily scalable and customizable manner on the real-time interactive Spatial platform.”
*Spatial’s term for co-creator of their platform and its code.
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