Sound Choices

Neat open-plan offices, Flexi seating, cool-sounding meeting rooms and cubicles have given way to home chairs, dining tables and all the innovative ways people are trying to make workspaces in their own homes.

Impromptu spaces mean impromptu sounds. The sound of the children playing, cooking sounds and more. Sounds that distract but still essential to keep track off. You know them too.

Reduce sound distractions while working
Noise-cancelling headsets were once sold for enhancing the beauty of melody by removing distracting ambient noise. The use case for noise cancellation today is to strengthen the focus of work in offices or homes by reducing ambient sound. So maybe Microsoft was onto something when they launched their productivity-focused headphones in some markets. Most reviewers were quite unsure who the user might be. Similarly, the Transparency mode within AirPods Pro allows you to manage ambient sounds around you.

Not relaying background noise onto your meetings

All that is good when you are managing sounds around you while working, but most people would rather not relay the ambient noise of their environment into their digital meeting. So yes, the primary protocol is auto-mute and only switch on the mic when needed. But when you speak ambient noise will seep through. Zoom claims an auto reduction of ambient noise in this video. Others may have an option too. Krisp is a third-party app that is focused only on the task of ambient noise reduction. They have apps for Window, Mac and iOS.

You want to sound clear

One bought a laptop for their productivity value e.g. good for office productivity apps, creative and so on. As more people connect via video and audio, microphone and cam quality will be of interest to a lot of people. Podcasters and audio professionals invest in external microphones from companies such as Shure , Blue and Zoom plus Apple highlights their 16 inch MacBook Pro to have a studio-quality microphone experience.

The thing is you can tweak various audio settings on your current device. Not all of them offer the same set but still worth checking out. SoundSource is a little tool that helps manage sound quality on a per-application basis. This app is Mac only. It’s a small utility that I find to be very useful and worth a try.

Motivating music and sounds
There’s always a song that helps us soar, connect, empathise and more. Some of us do like music in the background while others prefer ambient sounds. You can always turn to the playlists in your collection or on YouTube. If you are curious about ambient sounds, you might want to explore apps like Brain , Noisli and Calm

For now, I am planning to make a few new playlists because I love playing music most of the time.

The Soundscape of the Team

Entertainment and retail centres have always depended on music to create an ambience. Offices too now have music playing in their lobbies and workspaces. So sonic branding is an increasing focus of the brand experience teams. With the recent work from home scenario, the music list of our workplaces has no digital equivalent. Perhaps there is an opportunity for HR teams to place productivity-enhancing or stress-reducing playlists in Teams and Slack.