Delivering better working environments through audio innovation
- 01 September, 2020 09:00
If you are one of the nearly 1/3 of Australians that has found themselves working from home over the past few months, then you would be keenly aware of just how important it is to have access to a quality audio experience. We are spending more time on video conferencing calls than ever before, and we are discovering that doing so comes with the potential for miscommunication due to poor audio.
The audio and video solutions company EPOS, recently conducted research into the impact that audio has on the working experience in order to gauge just how significant the impact could be and found that, on average, professionals are losing around 29 minutes per week due to poor sound quality on voice calls. While that sounds small, it builds up, and most of us would much rather have those 29 minutes back to ourselves. Worse, though, is that 18 per cent of people have reported that they have missed a key deadline or lost a key piece of work due to poor audio quality – bad audio is making it hard to do our jobs well.
Close to half of us that are working from home will continue to do so even once the pandemic has passed. For some it will be a hybrid model, where they will spend some time in the office, and some time working from home. Others will never return to an office environment. We’ll do this because we tend to get more done when we work remotely and we tend to feel better about our jobs – it’s good for the work/life balance. However, this “new normal” is only going to be successful in the long term if communication doesn’t become an ongoing issue. We need good audio to do our jobs.
Using innovation to deliver pristine communication
Noise cancelling technology is nothing new, and it is often the first thing that people reach for when looking to improve their voice or videoconferencing experience. While noise cancelling headsets can certainly assist with hearing, the kind of communication involved in a meeting or video conference is a two-way street, and in many cases the challenge has been in the outbound side of communication – i.e. the delivery of voice.
That’s why it’s important to use technology developed by audio specialists that understand the way that human interactions work, and focus their creative innovation on not just improving the “sound”, but rather the overall audio experience.
To deliver pristine communication, innovation has recently focused on microphone technology. EPOS has become one of the first audio company in the world to deliver AI innovation within a headset, with the ADAPT 660 utilising AI to improve the quality of sound delivered through the microphone. It does this by monitoring the ambient sound in the environment and adjusting settings in real time to filter out any noise other than the speaker’s voice.
This has been optimised even further with a software tool – EPOS Connect – that allows for the easy management of firmware and updates, as well as the ability to personalise the device settings to suit the working environment. As work starts to open up again, remote working may well become the new normal, but there’s no reason that it can’t be done from a café, on the road to a client, or while relaxing at a tropical island resort. One of the great benefits of remote work is the freedom and flexibility it brings to professionals, so being able to rapidly adjust the headset settings to account for changes in environment is key to delivering on the full promise of remote work.
Building an environment around communication
Ambient noise is a challenge for just about any environment outside of a workplace office – whether it’s street noise, neighbours, pets and other family members, or construction, most environments have a different ambience to offices which can affect communication. It is possible to soundproof a home office as a DIY job, though this can be both expensive and time consuming (and frustrating if you’re not much of a DIY person!).
It’s also counter-productive since communication is increasingly mobile and it’s more useful to think of the “home office” of the future as a “bubble” around the individual wherever they happen to be working, rather than a physical and immobile location that they designate as a “home office”. To address this, finding solutions that help to control the sound quality anywhere and at any time is more important than soundproofing a single location.
But, again, being able to approach remote working with the flexibility that future work styles will call for requires technology that “understands” how work is being done. EPOS’ drive to help individuals and teams achieve more has focused its energies on understanding human connections, and building audio equipment around experiences, rather than simple solutions.
As the EPOS research shows, 35 per cent of professionals feel “frustration, irritation and annoyance” due to bad audio. And yet, while organisations have rushed to enable remote work policies so they can continue to operate through shutdowns and maintain the health of their organisation, over half (51 per cent) of organisations still only allow certain teams to order headsets or headphones. Anyone that is finding that video conferencing is delivering a less-than-ideal experience might want to look at the audio equipment they’re using first, because chances are, that’s where there is room for improvement.