The Covid-19 pandemic completely transformed not only the way we live, but how we work. The days of communicating with employees, partners and clients over a table in a boardroom are long behind us. Instead, communication is taking place online via applications such as Microsoft Teams and other unified communication platforms. Connecting and communicating with each other virtually has become essential to effective communication.
Before the pandemic, employees lost an average of 29 minutes per week due to poor sound quality, interruptive background noise and signal issues on video calls. Today, with the majority of communication and collaboration taking place online, decision makers are beginning to invest in collaboration tools to save both time and company spend, with 45 per cent citing time savings and 41 per cent naming cost savings as two of the most important reasons for using video meetings or calls over face-to-face. But underpinning all our virtual interactions is the audio experience. In fact, the need for good audio quality has become a non-negotiable enabler of business continuity.
New research from EPOS has found that audio is now an integral part of business performance and a company’s bottom line.
When it comes to audio quality, issues and interferences have skyrocketed while the tolerance for them is plummeting. In fact, 83 per cent of global business leaders say that audio equipment is more important today compared with two years ago. The risks and rewards of modern business are far too great to let something as big as audio quality slip through the cracks.
For businesses that are operating virtually, audio issues should be a problem of the past. It is the responsibility of business leaders to better equip their workforce with the solutions needed to work effectively. No two individuals and no two roles are the same, so why should their audio solution be?
What’s promising is that out of those leaders surveyed, 64 per cent say that having quality audio technology is more important than having a quality laptop or PC equipment to facilitate the required communication lines with clients and partners. That said, there is still a gap left by the 20 per cent of organisations who have decreased spending in audio equipment. These leaders have justified this decrease in spending by the expectation that employees will either bring their own devices or use their devices’ in-built audio. While this may be a practical solution, it still risks quality, and with hybrid and remote working styles set to become the norm, ensuring that employees have a positive working experience and environment is key to efficient operations and business continuity.
One of the defining characteristics of a business is often the workplace culture. For today’s businesses, a superior remote working experience is a true differentiator. It is already well established that effective call quality can result in better customer service, stronger employee-motivation/confidence and enhanced customer retention. Of those surveyed, 56 per cent say that high-quality audio equipment is essential to their business, with 78 per cent of global decision makers willing to pay extra for it.
When it comes to selecting their audio solutions, leaders need to map out how they want to work as an organisation and pick the collaboration tools that will cultivate tight-knit teams that can achieve top notch results. According to research, larger organisations have already begun to embrace this mentality. It is no surprise that those with more employees tend to have the money to spend on new audio equipment.
As business leaders and decision makers look ahead to the new year, they need to consider how the technology they equip their employees with will set them up for success. While cheaper options are tempting, they often lead to drops in efficiency and productivity. Instead, leaders should look to invest in solutions that are digitally advanced, with features such as active noise cancellation or artificial intelligence for enhanced voice pick-up.
At the end of the day, the future of the workplace is hybrid. We will see a combination of digital technology and face-to-face experiences across multiple locations and time zones. To realise success, businesses need a seamless employee experience. At the heart of this experience is good audio to help employees stay connected and collaborate effectively. To ensure their employees meet their full potential, enjoy their workplace environment, and perform, investing in sound solutions is a must.
Jeppe Dalberg-Larsen is president of EPOS
This article was originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.