95% of modern workers experience audio pain points which impact concentration and efficiency

The rise of the open plan office; good for collaboration, but not without its distractions and costs. According to new research by global market research firm IPSOS and high-end audio brand EPOS, 95% of audio end-users and decision makers experience pain points relating to sound that affect their concentration or efficiency at work.

Common complaints include being disturbed by loud colleagues (50%), overall noise levels in working environments (48%) and interruptions from colleagues (46%). These findings and more are revealed in EPOS’ ‘Understanding Sound Experiences’ Report, which surveyed 2,500 end-users and decision makers of audio equipment, over 75% of whom work in organisations of over 200 people. 

As technology has proliferated and working habits have evolved, the volume of telephone calls, conference calls and teleconferences has increased in turn. Remote communication encourages flexible working, but also has its downsides: 44% of end users report poor sound quality while making phone calls, and 39% the same with internet calls.

In total, 87% of end-users surveyed have experienced at least one pain point due to poor sound quality on calls, whether in the office or working from home. These include background noise (42%), having to repeat yourself (34%) and asking for information to be repeated (34%). These pain points cause a number of costs for companies that lack access to high-quality audio technology.

  • The time cost: On average end-users are losing 29 minutes per week due to poor sound quality on voice calls, time spent double checking information via follow-up emails or calls. For the average full-time worker, this equates to just over three days of lost time per year. 

  • The productivity cost: This time wasted contributes to a productivity cost to the employer. Looking for example at the average UK wage according to OECD data, 29 minutes a week equates to £389.48 (UK) per employee, per year of salary spent on needless work. For organizations with 10 employees, this is a productivity loss resulting in £3,894.80 wasted expenditure per year. Extrapolated further, businesses that employee over 100 people risk losing over £30,000 per annum in this way.

  • The business cost: It’s not just productivity that can suffer due to bad audio quality. According to decision makers, poor audio quality on calls has meant dissatisfied clients (23%), financial loss due to incorrectly undertaking a task (18%), loss of a key piece of work / a deal resulting in financial loss to the company (18%), or even loss of a pitch / tender (19%). Needless to say; these negative outcomes could be far greater than three days of lost employee productivity.  

There is however a recognized solution to many of these frustrations and issues with bad audio. Some 79% of decision makers agree that good audio equipment such as headsets, headphones and speaker phones can alleviate auditory pain points both on and off calls. The best headset solutions on the market today include features such as AI-based noise cancellation technology, meaning a loud colleague or a noisy working environment is no longer a distraction. 

Additionally, they can be big time savers. The best enterprise headsets on the market today come with dedicated buttons to instantly launch collaboration tools. According to the research, the most popular of these platforms are Skype for Business (used by 38% of end users), Microsoft Teams (27%) and Webex (16%).  Decision makers say that video calls or meetings help them feel closer to their teams (27%), maintain personal relationships while working from elsewhere (24%) and establish trust in working relationships (23%).

“It is clear that employees would benefit from higher quality audio solutions to support their productivity and well-being as remote working becomes more popular,” comments Theis Moerk, Vice President of Product Management, Enterprise Solutions. “It’s a positive development that 93% of decision makers are planning to purchase new equipment within the next 12 months, motivated in large part by the desire to keep up with the latest technology. 

“This is expected to include collaboration tools like headsets and speakerphones to match the ongoing UC deployments, where the importance of the endpoints is getting clearer. You simply won’t get the full benefits of a UC deployment without considering the full experience. In the future we expect organizations to provide high-quality headsets to employees in the same way as they do laptops and smartphones; an essential part of the toolkit of the modern worker.”

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