Business leaders are recognising a focus on the quality of experience, a commitment to investment in audio to match
Communicating with colleagues and partners rarely happens over a boardroom table nowadays. With the current health landscape accelerating and necessitating that most employees work from home. Connecting with each other virtually has become critical to effective communication. Pre-pandemic, we know that employees lost an average of 29 minutes per week due to poor sound quality, interruptive background noise, and signal issues on voice and video calls. In 2020, with more and more collaboration moved online, the challenge of poor audio is not just a frustration, but a heightened obstruction to productivity.
Audio quality has proven to be non-negotiable for global businesses and according to new research from EPOS, is widely recognised as key to maintaining client, employee, and partner communication. Audio is now seen as integral to business performance and bottom line. Decision-makers are harnessing collaboration tools to save 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. This is reflected in the current and future levels of projected investment, over the next two years, as almost all business leaders (95 per cent) will be continuing to periodically invest in new audio equipment for individual use.
Listening to Your Employees
For organisations that are conducting business virtually, audio issues should be a thing of the past. The onus, here, falls on business leaders, to better equip their workforce with the solutions they need to work effectively. The risk and reward of modern business are far too high to gamble with a plug-and-play experience; no two individuals and no two roles are the same, so why should their audio solution be?
The good news is that audio quality is becoming more important to business leaders; according to our research, 83 per cent of global decision-makers think that audio equipment has become more important over the last two years, with 56 per cent saying it has become much more important to maintain and establish connectivity with clients and teams. Of those surveyed, 64 per cent say that having quality audio technology today is more important than having a quality laptop or PC equipment to facilitate the required communication lines with clients and partners and is locked into business performance.
Yet there is a clear gap between business intention around audio and the solutions that are currently provided in many enterprises today. For 20 per cent of organisations that have decreased spending on audio equipment over the last two years, this is rationalised by the expectation that staff will either bring their own devices or use their devices in-built audio. While this might be functional it risks quality, and a myriad of negative audio experiences employees report daily, including; background noise, interference, and poor quality. All of which can ultimately impact the bottom line.
This is particularly important in the context of modern working styles, research from Gartner suggests that post-pandemic 41 per cent of remote workers are likely to continue working from home. With hybrid and remote working styles set to become commonplace, ensuring that employees have a positive experience while working from home is key to efficient operations and business continuity. Integral to this is having the right collaboration tools. When we think of collaboration tools, we might first think of Microsoft Teams or Zoom. But, underpinning all these functions is, of course, the audio experience.
Using Sound to Enhance Workplace Culture
A superior remote working experience is a true business differentiator, accelerating employee potential while also improving productivity and confidence. It is well established that effective call quality can lead to better customer service, stronger employee motivation/confidence, and enhanced customer retention. 56 per cent of business leaders and decision makers say that high-quality audio equipment is essential to their business. In fact, audio quality is becoming so important that 78 per cent of global decision-makers are willing to pay extra for it. When choosing their audio solutions, business leaders need to map out how they want to work as an organisation, and they need to think about the collaboration tools that will result in closer knit teams that can achieve greater results.
While some companies are yet to fully realize the benefits of effective collaboration and quality audio in day-to-day working life, EPOS has found that larger organizations are a step ahead. The more employees an organization has, the more frequently money will be spent on new audio equipment. These organizations have recognised that allocated budget spend is well placed on collaboration tools, with 79 per cent saying that audio is important to their success and performance.
Future-Proofing Starts Today
While it may be tempting to choose cheaper collaboration tools at a time where budgets are constrained, this can be a false economy – causing a drop in efficiency and productivity, and potentially needing to be replaced quickly. Opting for solutions that are digitally advanced – using features such as active noise cancellation or artificial intelligence for enhanced voice pick up - helps employees to feel more connected and heard, and this is particularly important in a time where the workforce is so dispersed.
Business leaders must also look beyond the pandemic toward future securing talent as Generation Z enters the workforce - remote or otherwise. Generation Z’s representation in the global workforce is set to pass 1 billion by 2030, and with 29 per cent of our respondents already citing younger employees' needs as a key factor in the increasing importance of audio, organizations today need to understand this demographic’s motivations and ways of working. Organizations that can offer flexible experiences and well-connected technology solutions will find themselves positioned to attract and retain top talent.
Ultimately, the future of the workplace is hybrid – combining digital technology with face-to-face experiences – and will be conducted in multiple locations, not just one office base. Underpinning this must be a seamless, employee experience. Our research also shows business leaders are beginning to recognise a focus on the quality of experience, and a commitment to investment in audio to match, with 95 per cent of decision-makers planning to invest over the next few years. Our individual audio experience is critical to communication and collaboration. To help employees unleash their potential, enjoy the workplace environment, and ultimately perform - effective and progressive sound solutions are a must.
The author is President, EPOS
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed are the author’s own, and Outlook Money does not necessarily subscribe to them. Outlook Money shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.