Reimagine the way you work

Reimagine the way you work


Author: Jesper Kock, Vice President, Research & Development

“In the future we will be able to use technology to improve basic human abilities like human hearing, to create workspaces and routines that are more convenient, flexible and efficient.“

What does the future of work look like? How will new technologies reshape our office life? And which tools will facilitate work-life balance while the border between private and job sphere is fading? Jesper Kock, Vice President of Research and Development Enterprise Solutions at Sennheiser, explains three major trends in technology that will redefine the way we work.

Today we have smart cities, smart cars and smart homes and soon we will also have smart offices. In the future we will be able to use technology to improve basic human abilities to create workspaces and routines that are more convenient, flexible and efficient.

Smart office devices, flexible work styles and new ways of collaborating are forever changing our work habits. These developments stress the need to change our perspective on work-life and reimagine the way we work.

Intelligent technology in the smart office

Over the past years the use of the office as work space has started to change. The flexible and mobile work style is on the rise and global business communication forces meetings into the virtual sphere. International enterprises are reacting to this trend and opening up their offices to the benefits of virtual video presence for their employees. By visually connecting colleagues and business partners all over the globe, we get the opportunity to not just hear the argument but also understand the nonverbal cues in the facial expression of our counterpart.

The power of video conferencing

Recent studies found that video conferencing increases the productivity and efficiency of our business communication up to 94%. Visual support in international calls enables us to read body language and facial expressions when different accents make it hard to understand each other. This way, misunderstandings can be solved instantly, and agreements can be reached faster.

Source: Steelcase

Intelligent visual and audio solutions that enable seamless collaboration will soon be a fixture in all offices, facilitating natural conversations even for large virtual teams as though they were in the same room.

Most offices are today designed as open space with significantly less square meters per employee than just 10 years ago. Emerging technologies like sensors, own voice pickup and adaptive noise cancellations in the professional workspace will, in the future, help professionals to overcome the challenges of the open office. They will be able to work smarter and more efficiently than ever before.

Modern headsets supporting these technologies therefore have great potential to become our natural interface for all devices and ultimately the turning point of the way we work.

“Modern headsets […] have great potential to become […] the turning point of the way we work.”

Equipped to handle noise in the office?

A recent survey amongst office workers across the US, EMEA and Asia-Pacific shows that distraction caused by noise is one of the top two problems for employees, along with a lack of quiet areas. While noise in open-plan offices often ranges between60 to 65 decibels, studies show that the preferred sound levels only reach 48 to 52 decibels.

Sources: Unispace, Steelcase, Cornell university

The flexible work life

Recent studies show that more than 63% of the workforce use a headset or speakerphone on a daily basis and that 31% spend more than half of their working time away from their desk.

Source: Sennheiser Survey

The ability of super hearing ‘Super-hearing’ sounds like something out of a superhero movie, but you don’t need a spider bite to jump on this trend. Recent technological innovation is about to turn fiction into reality.

As a prime example of how modern technology can improve human biological abilities, super hearing devices will enhance normal human hearing substantially. In the future, they will help us to not just increase our natural hearing ability, but also understand each other better in noisy surroundings. This ultimately means that we will hear better with the technology than without – even though we have normal hearing.

“…it is possible to improve a person’s natural hearing substantially and enable them to talk and understand each other better in noisy surroundings.”

The technology behind the device builds on a thorough understanding of the human voice and how it is distinguished from all other noises in the surroundings. If, for instance, you are in a busy environment like a canteen at work or a restaurant, you can usually only hear what the person next to you is saying. Super hearing devices will help us to overcome these boundaries of human hearing. We will finally be able to understand what every single person around the table brings to the discussion.

The nature of human hearing

A healthy hearing system recognizes both low sounds like a double-bass or traffic noise, and high sounds, as we hear when a violin is playing or when we listen to a bird twittering. In technical terms, that means frequencies between around 20 and 20,000 Hertz.

What’s more, it can process very quiet sounds like the buzzing of a mosquito, and extremely loud sounds such as the start of a jet engine. This equates to volumes between 0 and more than 120 decibels.

Source: OTICON

The need to self-quantify

Well-being and mental health topics are a huge trend in modern society and play a substantial role in the discussion on the future of work. Today, we see a great need for quantifying ourselves. By using wearables such as smart watches or activity trackers we are already able to measure our sleep or sport units to draw conclusions about the quality of our wellbeing.

But how can smart office technology help to detect stress at work and support a healthy work-life balance? Built-in microphone sensors might be the key: this latest innovation entering the microphone market enables us to analyse stress and energy levels based on the tone of our voice. Put into practice, this technology will flag whenever too much stress is overloading our workday. This ultimately enables us to intervene and react before the stressful situation becomes permanent and influences our quality of life.

“…perhaps now is the time to ask not only how we can but also how we should use technology to create intelligent workspace solutions that empower us to get the most out of work and life in general.”

The potential is huge and perhaps now is the time to ask not only how we can but also how we should use technology to create intelligent workspace solutions that empower us to get the most out of work and life in general.


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