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Exclusive: Flawless audio as a key component

Chris Morley, market development manager, integrated systems at Shure, discusses the need for perfect audio in the modern hybrid office

The hybrid workplace is a flexible model that adapts to a remote and on-site business strategy. There are numerous benefits to this style of working practice, for both employers and staff, but it also comes with many challenges.

One of those challenges was highlighted by a Shure-commissioned Frost & Sullivan report which highlighted the need for flawless audio as a key component of the modern meeting environment.

Pre-pandemic virtual meetings were often fraught with technical disruptions that created frustration, unnecessary delay or, in worst case scenarios, those meetings being cancelled. As organisations continue to invest in the technology now available, and embrace the hybrid work ethic, there is now no need – and no room – for technical disruption and unprofessional collaborations.

A simple, ‘best practice’ approach to videoconferencing can be all that’s required for highly productive, collaborative meetings, both in the physical and virtual/work from home (WFH) meeting environment – and there are a number of ways to achieve this.

But to appreciate the benefits, we must first understand the challenges that AV and IT leaders experience on a daily basis.

Almost all respondents interviewed for the report (98%) believed future meetings will include remote participants. With this in mind, a home working standard is a key requirement for those participating in meetings remotely. Having a list of approved products, such as noise cancelling headphones, a high-quality USB microphone and camera will make meetings more effective and productive.

Picking the right tools for the job is an important part of the transition from an office to WFH environment. Consideration should also be given to the acoustic properties of the room in which meetings will take place. Specialist acoustic treatments placed within a space will vastly improve the overall noise ambience of a room, along with software which can be used to suppress any unwanted noise from around the home.

While some employees have embraced the WFH trend, others have felt a sense of isolation away from the standard office environment, reflected in the report statistic revealing that 89% of respondents felt video conferencing helped them feel connected with colleagues and the business in general.

Flawless audio is pivotal in this sense for collaboration and engagement with peers and colleagues. Being able to express an opinion or make important decisions with others effectively is crucial and means that less time is spent asking others to repeat themselves, and more time getting on with the task in hand.

Indeed, research has shown that audio quality and clarity can directly influence the perceptions of the listener. An independent study, ‘Good Sound, Good Research’ revealed that a presentation suffering from poor audio was perceived as less important, the presenter less likeable and less intelligent than the same presentation benefiting from crystal clear audio and excellent intelligibility.

Wellbeing and morale can also be affected too. Listening is one of the most important aspects of successful communication, with bad audio leading to listener fatigue that can even develop into discomfort and pain throughout the meeting. This can have a direct impact on the effectiveness of a meeting as the content cannot be understood, and as a result, productivity is reduced.

With 87% of individuals not physically present for a meeting and reporting that they feel an increased engagement with colleagues through video, it is clear that flawless audio is a vital component of the modern meeting environment.

More and more organisations are implementing a hybrid working environment. Thinking beyond video as the only form of communication – and realising how important an effective audio ecosystem is too – will be crucial to future business success.   

Perhaps: To read the F&S research ‘Flawless Audio for Effective Collaboration in a Hybrid World – 4 Ways to Make it Happen by clicking here