During the lockdown, websites that provide a background noise of an office have received millions of visits from workers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has fed in to the popularity of these office “soundboards” which are available online and can produce noises such as printers, coffee machines and colleagues chatting.
Employees have said that hearing office noises can help them concentrate, thereby assisting productivity.
Paul Hewson, a statistician has used these websites to aid them whilst working from home.
Mr Hewson said:
Having the background office chatter means when I really need to concentrate I can.
I don’t know whether it is the office sound that works or just having a feeling of human contact.
These “soundboard” websites also allow you to control what noises you want to hear whilst working.
Mr Hewson said one of his favourite websites is called Office Noise Generator.
The creator of Office Noise Generator, Stéphane Pigeon, a Belgium research engineer explained that he made the website “as a joke” but numerous workers have listened, as his site has received 200,000 views since April.
Mr Pigeon explained that the noise generator replaces silence with a pleasant sound.
The trick is for the pleasant noise to be constant so that your brain will filter it out from your conscious perception.
After a couple of minutes, you won’t actively hear it anymore – especially if you are doing something else, like working on your computer – but this noise will still block the nuisance you didn’t want to hear in first place.
Mr Pigeon also went on to say that these noises also reduce the feeling of loneliness brought on by remote working.
Mr Pigeon added:
People seem to really enjoy the ‘company’ provided by office sounds. It takes away the feeling of isolation.
We as humans feel more comfortable together than alone, even if we are not actively engaging with the group that surrounds us.
And with sounds, we can trick the mind into thinking you are actually physically together with other people.