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Make Home Feel Like the Office. "The Sound of Colleagues" is Peak Home Office Experience20.11.2020

Make Home Feel Like the Office. The Sound of Colleagues is Peak Home Office Experience

The whirr of the printer, the coffee dripping in the machine, conversations, phones ringing off the hook, and the ubiquitous clack of typing. If you happened to forget what the soundscape of an office sounds like while in lockdown, there’s a simulator just for you. 

In one recent column here, we wrote about the conversation between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and NYT’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, during which the entrepreneur outlined his vision for the future of work and business: “My prediction would be that over 50% of business travel and over 30% of days in the office will go away,” he speculated. That vision is slowly becoming a reality, especially for major companies. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently announced the introduction of a permanent work-from-home policy for those who wouldn’t want to come back to the office once the COVID-19 lockdowns are over. At Microsoft, reportedly 150,000 employees were allowed to switch to a permanent work-from-home arrangement. 

The switch to working from home has unsurprisingly become fodder for a number of memes and jokes as its appeal rarely extends past the first few weeks spent between the kitchen and the computer. Many home office-bound workers complain of having trouble with focus and productivity. Places that most associate with rest and spending time loves ones were suddenly repurposed as command centers working round-the-clock, where one room serves as videoconferencing center and another as a remote classroom, with the noise of everyday life in the background. 

How do we focus in front of a computer when there are distraction all around, and when a simple visit to the break room to have a cup with co-workers has been replaced by a solitary trek to the kitchen? Well, music might be of some help. Back in March, when Poland went into its first COVID-19 lockdown, we compiled a list of ten albums we believed might help overcome the stress of dealing with deadlines and ASAPs at home. Our selection featured electronic music from Tycho, DJ Healer, and Aphex Twin. 

A similar, soundscape-related idea was recently unveiled by the Swedish marketing agency Familjen STHLM in collaboration with the sonic branding studio Red Pipe Studios. Their original website Sound of Colleagues features an aural collage compiled from what could be considered a field recording from a busy office. Visitors can use the website to create their own soundscapes, easily changing the volume level of their individual components. The ubiquitous blend of the office coffee machine, the purrs and whirrs of the printer, the clatter of typing and the din of ringtones, even the barking of the office dog, has become the white noise of our time. 

Aside from the website, the Scandinavian creatives have also released a custom album featuring ten short tracks that can be looped endlessly and used to transport the lisener, albeit virtually, to a shiny new office skyscraper of a 1950s office, with typewriters proudly standing on desks where now laptops reign supreme. 

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