I read an article about immersive sound in the office, and just from the title I will admit I went into it with skepticism.
It describes how some design companies introduce immersive sound as a way to bring open offices back into fashion. My first thought is, why would we want open offices to come back into fashion?
The sounds they use are intended to connect people to the same space, customized to your workforce’s preferences. The sound can be music or nature sounds, and the intent is to boost employee productivity.
But to me, similar to other issues with open offices (loud talkers, phones, etc.), this seems like more of a problem than a solution.
What about different tastes and preferences? Some people don’t like any noise while they work. Some like talk radio while others like the soft tones this idea promotes. Still others, like this author, sometimes work best with some Iron Maiden cranked up loud. Since I am also a songwriter and musician, I sometimes like to have the new song I’m working on in the background. That helps me absorb it subconsciously and later in the studio I will have a better idea of where it needs improvements.
While some proponents recommend giving people the choice to be in the soundscape, that runs counter with the goal of reimposing the open office. Maybe the focus should be on helping each member of the team enhance productivity in their own way. I doubt it will come from being forced to endure someone else’s noise. Oh yeah before I forget, keep that open office away from me.