By Convergent AV

Open office environments are, as many know, becoming more the norm these days in companies of all sizes. While two of the largest reasons for implementing this type of environment are enhanced collaboration and teamwork, research shows that such benefits of an open office design can be offset by numerous distractions, one of the primary being noise. Commercial AV integrators have for years installed varying types of solutions to create more “habitable” office environments where noise distractions have created certain issues – from health and wellness to decreased productivity.

Toward the end of July, Plantronics introduced Habitat Soundscaping™, an intelligent acoustic management service that helps transform distracting open office spaces into peaceful environments where people can focus and collaborate – and in essence create a better opportunity to thrive. The service uses nature-inspired audio and visuals, coupled with intelligent software to mitigate distractions due to speech – the most common complaint employees have about their open workspaces. Habitat Soundscaping brings these natural elements into the workplace to create an immersive experience, where people will want to come to work, along with feeling energized.

Biophilia hypothesis suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Certain studies have shown that workplaces with a connection to nature find that it helps improve mood, working memory and cognitive functioning. According to Plantronics, studies have concluded that workplaces with architectural elements which connect to nature have been proven to reduce worker absenteeism by 10 percent – creating the opportunity for significant productivity gains and a much happier workforce. *

Habitat Soundscaping combines nature-inspired audio, immersive visuals and adaptive software to enable such focused individual work and group collaboration to occur in the same open workplace. The service includes hardware and software and is comprised of the following:

  • Nature-inspired Audio – Intelligible speech is highly distracting for humans, who are hard-wired to pay attention to speech and fill in any missing pieces of conversation. Research has proven natural water sounds are the most effective means to reduce the impact of intelligible speech while also creating a comfortable, rejuvenating environment to work in. The Habitat Soundscaping service brings these natural water sounds to the open office creating a space that is highly functional and promotes overall wellbeing.
  • Natural Scenes – The Habitat Soundscaping service uses a combination of natural audio and real waterfalls, or virtual displays of serene landscapes, to help reinvigorate the office. The visuals complement the nature-inspired audio to create a harmonious, multisensory experience. Research has also shown that bringing visual connections to nature into the office can improve cognitive functioning and mood of the people in that space.
  • Intelligent Software – To reduce distraction, the service actively senses disruptive, intelligible speech and dynamically adjusts the natural sounds in the surrounding work zones in real time to help others stay focused without interrupting any collaboration. It even works at the subconscious level, acoustically incentivizing the right behavior, so that especially loud talkers are encouraged to keep their voices down. The system also automatically analyzes its performance to ensure it’s running optimally day-in and day-out.

Global AV integrator AVI-SPL is one of the channel partners working with Plantronics to offer this new service.

“Businesses are eager to resolve the noise issues they’re experiencing with open office layouts,” said Dale Bottcher, senior vice president of sales at AVI-SPL. “By partnering with Plantronics, we’re able to provide customers a game-changing option to help make their open office environments the best they can be using the Habitat Soundscaping service.”

Find out more about Plantronics Habitat Soundscaping here.

Watch the video.

Note: A Convergent Tech Talk discussion will be upcoming with Plantronics.

* See Plantronics Unveils Habitat Soundscaping; An Intelligent Service to Solve Noise and Distraction Problems Associated with Open Office Environments