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Miss The Noise Of An Office Environment? A Device To The Rescue

NOEL KING, HOST:

OK, by this point, a day at the office seems like a distant memory. And you might miss the routine. You might miss the energy you get from your colleagues. Or...

FRED WORDIE: You miss being annoyed and interrupted.

KING: That's Fred Wordie. He works for the Kids Creative Agency in Berlin.

WORDIE: You really do miss those annoying human sounds that happen in the office, and they do keep you motivated and keep you inspired.

KING: When he and his colleagues started working from home, they realized that things seemed a little quiet. So they made a website to bring the office closer.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER BUBBLING)

KING: There, you can hear a water cooler bubbling...

(SOUNDBITE OF KEYBOARD TYPING)

KING: ...That co-worker who types very passionately - miss you, Steve Inskeep - or the human sounds that you might not have even realized were there but now...

(SOUNDBITE OF SNEEZING)

KING: ...They leave a sneeze-shaped hole in your heart. Valentin Cheli worked on the graphic design for the website imisstheoffice.eu.

VALENTIN CHELI: I actually like the pingpong noise. In a real room, like, it's way too extreme, but on my little computer's speakers, it becomes quite soothing.

KING: The office noise generator lets you click on parts of the room you want to hear. So if you're feeling lonely, you can add a couple co-workers who are represented by abstract shapes. But if a neighbor's humming is driving you crazy, subtract him.

WORDIE: I really like the guy chewing loudly.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEWING)

WORDIE: And people have complained about it. But it's good that you can't smell his food.

KING: Fred Wordie says the control is what makes this project work.

WORDIE: Office sounds are often quite annoying. But with this website, you can just turn it off. You have that power. That's why this is soothing, whereas in real life, it's actually a bit more antagonizing.

KING: So here's hoping we'll be back at work soon and as annoyed as ever. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.