Bad audio is bad for business


A post-coronavirus world will see transformations in how and where we work, and the skills and competencies needed in the labour market. The pandemic has accelerated organisations’ digital transformation efforts and new technological deployments will lead to an increasingly virtual and
hybrid work model, with workplace strategies built around more asynchronous workflows. 

Some workers will be on company workspaces, which are likely to be reimagined for the new normal, while others will be working distributed remotely and at different times. 

Since remote working has become a natural part of people’s lives, intrusive audio is no longer confined to office environments, A recent study by high-end audio solutions company EPOS, titled Understanding Sound Experiences, found nine in ten workers have experienced at least one painpoint due to poor sound quality during calls or virtual meetings, with common problems including excessive background noise, having to repeat information and bad connections cutting off speech.

The EPOS survey revealed that, on average, users spend five hours and nineteen minutes daily on activities related to sound and meetings, whether virtual or face to face. Nearly every respondent said their concentration and efficiency at work has suffered due to sound problems. Disruption caused by loud colleagues was the most raised issue, among 50 per cent of those surveyed. 

The average audio solution end-user loses 29 minutes a week due to poor sound quality on voice calls and time spent double-checking information via follow-up emails or calls, according to the research. For the average full-time worker, this equates to just over three days of lost time a year. Meanwhile, the study found poor audio quality on calls also resulted in dissatisfied clients among 23 per cent of the decision-makers surveyed and financial loss due to incorrectly undertaking a task or losing a deal among 18 per cent. 

The consequences of bad audio don’t stop there. As businesses increasingly view flexible working as crucial to their long-term work model, they have the challenge of keeping morale and communication levels high, and preventing employees from feeling isolated and distant.

“It not only enhances performance, but also improves employee wellbeing, which is quickly becoming a key differentiator for job seekers”

“In response to this, we’re expecting a renewed commitment from industry to foster better tech collaboration and integration into our day-to-day lives, ensuring no employee is left behind,” says Theis Moerk, vice president of product management, enterprise solutions, at EPOS. “With collaboration software still in its infancy, awareness is lacking and many companies are yet to fully realise the benefits to day-to-day working life. It not only enhances performance, but also improves employee wellbeing, which is quickly becoming a key differentiator for job seekers.

“With the Understanding Sound Experiences survey, we wanted to emphasise how important high-quality audio solutions are to productivity and performance by looking at how the opposite – bad audio – can result in miscommunication, misunderstanding and misinterpretation, with significant consequences for businesses and their employees. Many people are mishearing each other on conference calls daily and bad audio is often to blame.”

It is clear employees would benefit from high-quality audio solutions to enhance productivity and wellbeing in a remote-working environment. Fortunately, 93 per cent of decision-makers are planning to purchase these within the next 12 months, according to EPOS’s research. This is expected to include collaboration tools like headsets and speakerphones, which organisations are likely to start providing to new employees in the same way they set them up with a laptop and phone. Simply providing headsets won’t meet the needs of modern workers in the new normal, however; audio quality is paramount.

As a leading provider of high-end audio solutions for business professionals and gamers, EPOS delivers advanced and pioneering solutions with design, technology and performance as paramount parameters. Headquartered in Denmark and part of the Demant Group, it builds on more than 115 years of experience working with innovation and sound. The company offers three core umbrella technologies: EPOS AI, EPOS Voice and EPOS Sound.

EPOS AI adapts speed to every environment to create an optimised audio experience that enhances speech clarity. The machine-learning system makes sound decisions independently by interacting with advanced beam-forming and noise reduction algorithms to adapt speech automatically to the environment. By removing noise disturbances and optimising noise levels, EPOS Voice improves speech intelligibility and ensures a more natural reproduction of the human voice. And EPOS Sound delivers a natural, augmented and immersive listening experience through continuous monitoring of ambient sound and varying noise levels.

“The technological breakthroughs we’re seeing in the audio sector, from artificial intelligence-integrated headsets that monitor users’ auditory preferences, to collaboration software in speaker phones, are bringing us closer to an age of convenience and ease of connectivity,” says Moerk. 

“In fact, eight in ten of those experiencing audio painpoints believe good audio equipment is the right solution to solving their workplace challenges. To maintain their competitive edge in the market, companies must provide the best equipment for their employees, ensuring optimum productivity levels. Equipping them with the right tools allows them to be more time efficient as well as focus on the more strategic tasks at hand.

“While high-quality audio solutions might be an investment, it is worth considering the additional costs that can be avoided as part of this. If communications solutions are optimised, much business travel becomes a needless expense. Often, an effective audio or video call can facilitate an international meeting at a fraction of the cost of train or plane tickets. For these measures to be successful and beneficial to businesses, it comes down to the quality of audio. 

“Without clear sound and undisrupted connection, video conferencing, as well as headset and speakerphone use, will be redundant and successful remote working will be a pipe dream.” 

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