How can technology and designed audiovisual systems support the needs of highly sensitive people?2023 | september
An overview of solutions for office spaces
The pandemic and the intensely digitalising world have left us facing entirely new challenges to effective communication. These changes have a direct impact on the model of our work, as well as cooperation with colleagues. Technology and properly designed audiovisual systems are bridging the gap between the new reality and the individual needs of employees – including unique ones.
A study conducted by American psychologist Elaine Aron found that highly sensitive individuals (HSPs) make up as much as 20% of our population. The study groups came from different cultural backgrounds, which means that up to one in five people in the world may react in a more intense way to stimulation from the environment. That is why it is so important that modern office spaces support not only hybrid work, but also the functioning of people with different needs working within them. In this article, we will take a closer look at some aspects that affect the functioning of HSPs, as well as review audio-visual and technological solutions that can positively impact the working experience.
Who are the highly sensitive people?
Highly sensitive people (HSPs) are characterized by high levels of empathy and the ability to empathize strongly with other people. High sensitivity is considered an innate temperament trait, independent of upbringing style or other environmental circumstances. Highly sensitive people are born with a tendency to notice more details in their surroundings, so they can become overstimulated more quickly. They are also sometimes inclined to think much more deeply, and at greater length, before proceeding with tasks. They also often act more carefully and do not make decisions on impulse. In addition, high sensitivity is associated with aspects such as noticing things that are imperceptible to others, or picking up nuances and subtle differences. Keep in mind that highly sensitive people do not necessarily have all of the traits and tendencies described above, and that people who do not define themselves as HSPs may observe some of these features in themselves.
The office space stimulates our senses on many levels. It is where we interact with co-workers, take on professional challenges that are often accompanied by stress, or work on important projects. All this takes place in a shared space that is tailored, as much as possible, to the needs of the group, and not necessarily to those of the individual. In the office, people who are more sensitive – not just HSP – may succumb to quicker overstimulation and have trouble concentrating and focusing. Well-designed and implemented audiovisual systems can bridge the gap between the individual needs of employees and the opportunities afforded by a shared space. Combined with modern technological solutions, they can have a positive impact on employee comfort overall.
Office designed to meet unique needs
Highly sensitive people may react more strongly to stimulus. Aspects of the office space, such as wall color, lighting, temperature and climate, are important to the well-being of people with unique needs. Highly sensitive employees may need a place to calm down and gather their thoughts, and this is not always possible in standard offices. That’s why it is so important to properly plan and implement audiovisual solutions, to help create an optimal working environment. When designing an office that supports the functioning of people with unique needs, the role of an experienced AV integrator will be extremely important. Their support will be invaluable in terms of selecting high-quality equipment, as well as its implementation and commissioning. The AV integrator will also pay attention to technical aspects, space management options, and offer modern systems and technological solutions to support a flexible workplace.
Improving work comfort – a review of solutions
A well-thought-out and planned workplace, coupled with understanding and support from the employer or co-workers, is a milestone in improving the comfort of people with unique needs. We should also remember that a properly designed office, which takes into account the diverse needs of employees, is the key to effective collaboration in a hybrid reality.
When designing a supportive and flexible workplace, consider the following aspects.
Lighting in the workplace can be very important to HSPs well-being. Therefore it is worth ensuring that offices have specially designed lighting systems that allow the intensity of light to be adjusted smoothly. The ability to adjust the color temperature of artificial light to natural light, will certainly be helpful in avoiding overstimulation, as well as improving the ability to focus attention on assigned tasks for longer periods of time. Lighting systems can be integrated with the audiovisual system of a room, which will make office management much easier.
Noise in the workplace can have a negative impact on concentration. Noise coming from the space can focus all the attention of people with special needs, and make their productivity decrease. To help employees become more comfortable in the workplace, it is worth investing in headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC) and acoustic panels. They will effectively silence ambient sounds and allow the user to better focus on their current tasks.
For some people, olfactory impressions are very important. An unpleasant or overly intense scent can distract and lead to distraction. That is why scent diffusion systems with optional essential oils can be helpful in creating a welcoming workspace, helping to create a relaxing environment that promotes focus and well-being. Integration with a room management panel can help users to adjust the intensity of the scent in the meeting room.
HSP-friendly screens and monitors
Working at a computer for a long time can put a lot of strain on people with unique needs. High-frequency display screens with high image quality will avoid screen flickering and thus reduce visual fatigue, which will enable a longer focus time. It is also worth ensuring that employees have a choice in whether they want to use projectors or display screens that offer different audiovisual experiences. As early as at the office design stage, we should take into account the individual preferences of the users, as well as the specifics of their workstation and the functional requirements of the space. Whether in meeting rooms, collaborative spaces or training spaces, it is worthwhile to ensure that high-quality display screens support the hybrid work system. Highly sensitive individuals may need dedicated solutions, so when it comes to selecting display screens, it would be best to enlist the support of an experienced AV integrator.
The magic of colors
Colors are also very important to the comfort of our work. RGBW lighting technology allows us to adjust the color of the space, which can affect the mood and well-being of people with unique needs. Colors that are too intense can negatively affect work comfort, causing overwhelm and discomfort. Therefore, attention to subdued, focus-promoting colors is key to improving the quality of work for highly sensitive individuals.
Climate and temperature
The climate and temperature that prevail in an office space also affect the well-being of highly sensitive people. That’s why, when designing an office, it’s worth taking care of air conditioning control systems that allow individual adjustment of temperature, humidity and air ionization. In this way, we will promote an optimal work environment and the well-being of HSP. Keep in mind that integration of AV with the building management system is an important part of office infrastructure design, and it is the AV integrator, who can design a control system that includes not only strictly audio-visual devices, but also additional aspects such as temperature or air quality control in a given space. All of this can reside on a single touch panel with a user-friendly interface.
Intuitive room reservation system
It will be beneficial to simplify the operation of the office management systems as much as possible. This will include, for example, the reservation of rooms, parking spaces or desks. Simple and intuitive room reservation systems help minimize stress, and contribute to a sense of higher efficiency and proficiency among employees. There are many space reservation applications and platforms on the market, so it is important to make a good choice – an independent AV integrator will help with this decision. In addition, complex booking systems can be visually taxing for highly sensitive people – even such short contact with a display not tailored to their unique needs can turn into negative sensory impressions.
Relaxation areas are becoming more and more popular in office spaces. Meditation rooms or float rooms can provide additional support for HSPs and individuals, who need a moment to themselves. Space for regeneration allows people to calm down and have a few minutes to themselves, so when planning an office with the unique needs of employees in mind, it will be advantageous to include an additional room, where a break from external stimulators is possible. In such a space, it can be useful to have an adequately selected and automated sound system to ensure that people with unique needs are comfortable.
Flexible workplace – real support for HSPs
By using the above tips and audiovisual solutions, we can create a work environment that not only improves the comfort of HSPs, but also supports their professional development and facilitates the pursuit of their goals. When designing an office space that will support people with unique needs, it is good to consider the right audiovisual equipment for a home or remote workstation, that will be integrated with an office video conferencing system. According to a survey conducted in the first quarter of 2023, the ability to combine remote work with working from the office, is now one of the key factors that candidates look at before taking a job. This is not only true for highly sensitive individuals, but in their case, a sense that the employer understands and respects their unique needs, will be especially important to their effective functioning in the work environment.
Let’s also remember that the needs of highly sensitive individuals should be taken into account as early as the design stage of the office space. When working with an experienced AV integrator, it will be possible to create a workplace that supports the needs of HSPs – at all levels.