The modern home office has never sounded so good
Working from home comes with all the distractions of everyday domestic life. Customers can cut out the background noise with some the latest portable home office audio products
For many of us, home has become the new office. During the first lockdown last year, almost half of people in employment – 46.6% – carried out some form of work at home and of those that did, 86% did so as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic (Office For National Statistics, April 2020).
Listening to music can help people manage anxiety, become motivated and stay more productive
Being based at home can definitely have its advantages – you don’t have to listen to your colleagues complaining, or telling you what they saw on TV the night before – but it can also be a difficult environment for working in, as there are lots of distractions, be it the family, the TV or the fridge. So what’s the solution?
You need to create a suitable soundtrack for your homeworking space – research has shown that music can improve productivity and cognitive performance, especially in adults. According to an article published by The Guardian in April last year, listening to music can help people manage anxiety, become more motivated and stay productive. Making the right playlist is key.
One of the music therapists quoted in the article suggests starting off with Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles – a track that should gradually bring you into a state of productivity rather than force you there. Their advice is to then find your ‘power song’ – researchers have found that a faster track speed can result in increased performance. In one study that examined the relationship between the music tempo and productivity, most test subjects performed best while listening to songs paced at around 121bpm.
Streaming service Spotify has even created a Work From Home playlist – eight hours of music (145 songs) designed to carry you through the day, although sadly it doesn’t include Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, which was the third most popular working from home song according to a study by Business Comparison, or Work From Home by Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign, which was number one in the poll. There’s also no room in the Spotify selection for Johnny Paycheck’s Take This Job and Shove It…
Music has played a vital part in helping people stay sane during lockdown. More than 155 million albums were bought or streamed in 2020, an increase of 8.2% according to record label body, the BPI. Songs streamed on platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music increased by 22% and streaming now accounts for approximately 80.6% of music consumption in the UK.
With more and more of us streaming music while we work at home, there’s a great opportunity for retailers to make the most of this sonic boom. Consumers are on the lookout for stylish and portable audio products that can sit comfortably in a home office space, and which sound great.
Bang and Olufsen’s Beosound A1 (2nd Gen) waterproof Bluetooth speaker (£200 and available in Black Anthracite or Grey Mist colours) has a compact design and is ultraportable – handy if you want to move it from room to room, or work outside in the garden when the weather improves.
Delivering ‘True360’ omnidirectional sound and up to 18 hours of playtime at typical listening volumes, the A1 has a Multipoint feature, which lets two devices connect and control the tunes. This durable product is also waterproof – useful if you spill a drink on it while you’re working at your desk.
It also supports Amazon Alexa, so you can easily turn the volume down with your voice if you need to answer a phone call. The microphone doubles up as a conference speaker for those all-important meetings.
The PowerConf Bluetooth speakerphone from Anker, available in black (£119), is designed to offer users professional-quality conference calls at home and its compact build is perfect for a small space.
The six in-built microphones are arranged in a 360-degree array to pick up voices from all directions, and Smart Voice Enhancement technology uses a custom DSP algorithm to optimise your voice in real-time, as well as to effectively reduce background noise.
Music has played a vital part in helping people stay sane during lockdown
The device can be connected to a phone via Bluetooth, or to your computer with a USB-C cable, without needing to install any drivers. It’s also Zoom-certified and is compatible with all of the popular online conferencing platforms. A lightweight compact travel case protects it while you’re moving around the house.
LG’s XBoom Go PL2 speaker (£49.99 for the black version, or £59.99 in blue) was developed by the Korean brand in conjunction with premium British audio specialist Meridian. It has a sleek, rounded design and a rubberised finish, which means it’s easy to hold and fits comfortably in your hand.
This weather-proof product, which is also compatible with Google Assistant on an Android phone, or Siri on iOS, has 10-hours of battery life on a single charge, more than enough to last a typical working day.
These speakers are great on their own, but can also be wirelessly linked to another Go PL2 to pump up the sound output, perfect for transitioning from work to play. Once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and we all socialising again, who’s to say we won’t need a great audio system for those “rule of six” garden parties once more?
Also available from the same brand are the LG Tone Free wireless earbuds (£149.99 – in black or white). Providing clear and immersive spatial sound from Meridian, these headphones have built-in dual microphones for maximum call clarity.
The close in-ear fit blocks out background noise and, thanks to the Ambient Sound Mode, a simple tap on your earbuds makes sure you’re fully aware of your surroundings.
This feature is particularly useful when you need to have a quick conversation – ideal if you suddenly have to speak to a member of your family while you’re enjoying your work-from-home playlist.
Brand new from Danish audio equipment manufacturer Jabra is the BlueParrott M300-XT (price TBC) – the brand’s smallest and lightest ever headset. Engineered to keep you connected on the go, its two microphones deliver 80% noise-cancellation, meaning your calls will come across loud and clear, wherever you are.
Talk time is up to 14 hours from a single charge and this ultra-light product has a wireless range of up to 300 feet (100m). You can get on with what you need to do without worrying whether your headset will be able to keep up.
If your customers find working from home to a music soundtrack too distracting, or they’re missing the buzz of a busy office, why not suggest they visit website The Sound of Colleagues (www.soundofcolleagues. com) which lets you listen to the typical background noises of a workspace, including the printer, a coffee machine, people, keyboards and rain on the window.
Get them to crank it up on a decent home audio device that you’ve sold them, and they’ll soon forget it’s actually just another day not at the office.