Work, rest & play - The use of audio today
Numerous lockdowns have brought about many unexpected changes, including the shift towards remote working which is potentially set to continue. Multi-tasking between home and work life has become the new norm for many. While we try and maintain boundaries, we find the two may naturally blend, particularly with the time spent using mobile devices and accessories for both business and pleasure.
As people spend more time at home the way they listen is changing.
The increased use of audio during lockdown
While headsets, headphones and speakers are now used more for work meetings, hands free calls, webinars, virtual events, online training, and live streaming, they can also help with more productive working, closer collaboration and learning. Even to relieve anxiety, lift your mood and make some of the most tedious tasks and chores more enjoyable.
Picking up those headphones is now no longer to escape the city hubbub on a commute to work, or to get immersed in a playlist during a gym session. It’s for Zoom calls, video chatting, YouTube, podcasts, exercising, relaxing and more – from a desk or kitchen table to a living space. Enabling a smoother and more seamless transition to the end of the working day.
A new change in listening habits
Changing lifestyle patterns and habits has forced a mindset change with how people listen – why need a Spotify playlist for a regular bus or train journey that’s no longer there? Or an audiobook for a long drive to the office?
With less people on the road, listening in a car, particularly to radio has declined and been replaced with listening via connected devices – mobiles, laptops, tablets, TVs, smart speakers and games consoles. Devices that are more integrated and dynamic to instantly adapt to changing lifestyle needs. Use Alexa, Siri or any other voice assistant on your smart audio device to go from a conference call direct to a cooking recipe. Or from your meeting schedule to a 7 minute workout.
A more focused way of listening
No longer just an essential for the frequent flyer or city commuter, noise cancelling headphones have found their way in the modern home-office set up. More consumers are looking for ways to cut off from ambient noise levels, from their partner’s work calls, video chats, children squabbling and background TV sounds.
Noise cancelling headphones reduce external noise levels to allow you to have a more comfortable listening experience without having to turn the volume up. A great feature for reducing noise distraction when working from home and focusing on a call, but also for reading, studying or meditating - helping you to work, focus or relax.
A quiet calm at the end of the day
Coping and compromising with loud and distracting noise levels in an open plan home office environment can lead to feelings of frustration, irritation and fatigue during an already challenging time.
"Having a lot of background noise when you’re doing something is tiring. Without noticing, you’re putting in a lot more effort in order to block out the noise. So when you shut it out, there’s a sense of relief."
- Stephen Stansfeld, Professor of Psychiatry, Queen Mary University of London
Reducing ambient noise levels and introducing a sense of calm and personal space can help alleviate stress and anxiety, a common side effect of lockdown blues. Heightened feelings can be brought down at the end of the day with gentle music or the sounds of nature, transcending you to a new personal and stress-free space. The uptake in wellbeing, mindfulness and relaxation podcasts and music has evidently increased as a result.
Changing routines during the pandemic has seen a significant and perhaps long-term shift in behaviour and audio consumption, accelerating the adoption of alternative technologies for listening - transitioning between focus for work, relaxation during ‘me’ time and a switch off at the end of the day.
Written by Rajinder Rai