How Open Office headsets are the new must-haves that are killing it on quality
There’s an old saying: you don’t miss what you’ve never had.
There’s another too: if it isn’t broken, why fix it?
Well, try getting either of those past the woman who recently joined a Teams call from a busy Oxford Street tube station without a single person on the call suspecting she was anywhere other than in a hushed office.
No-one heard any background pings of gates opening or platform announcements.
No-one sensed the faint rush of traffic outside or trains below. And EVERYONE got every word she said: crisp and clear.
What’s the point of this (true) story?
Well, the woman’s headset was a device that meets Open Office requirements. This shouldn’t be surprising. The technology is available and it is not a novelty, it can and will make a huge difference to workers who utilise it.
But how was this level of call quality achieved in such an extreme environment? Teams certified and Open Office devices offer extra functionality, extra features and extra flexibility.
“The tube station story is a brilliant one, and it really illustrates the added value of choosing a certified device,” says a man who really knows – Richard Trestain, Product Marketing Manager for EMEA North at global unified audio and video vendor, Jabra.
“I heard another similar story the other day involving a guy on a Teams call while his wife made a smoothie in the same room. “Most poor call quality issues stem from the use of non-certified devices and you really wouldn’t believe the experience you get when you switch.”
So, what IS a certified device and what is Open Office?
Well, think of it as a quality-assured kite mark.
Certified and Open Office devices have passed a series of rigorous tests and, in the case of Teams, have been judged by Microsoft to have hit the high benchmark that it sets to achieve certification.
To meet the “open office” requirements, headsets must go over-and-above the regular requirements and demonstrate that the microphone sufficiently suppresses surrounding noise and background talk. More specifically it is required that the microphone does not pick up talk or chatter from the person sitting next to the headset-user. In even more simple terms that means that the recipient of the call should not be able to hear the noise that they normally hear in a call-center / open office / home environment.
“The advantage of opting for Open Office devices aren’t hitting home, and it needs to,” says Trestain. “It’s of course the best way of mitigating against the issues caused by the current need to work from home, such as masking distracting background noise, but it’s also going to be a really important part of the new post-pandemic hybrid model of a few days back in the office and a few days still working from home or on a customer site. There is likely to be much more hot-desking too as businesses downsize their real estate.”
The technological benefits of Open office and Teams certified devices are apparent. Many boast features like Echo Suppression and Wide Band Audio.
In some devices it is possible for the microphones to pick up the sound of the speakers and the resulting echo can often stop a conversation in its tracks. Teams certified devices effectively combat this.
Everyone will be familiar with the lo-fi, tinny sound of a standard telephone call and those using the right equipment will know the richer-sounding call quality on a platform like Teams or Zoom. This is due to the Wide Band Audio capabilities of the platform as well as the headset itself being able to pick up, transmit and receive a much broader range of frequencies. This means a much more natural reproduction of voices not only improving intelligibility but making it much more pleasurable to listen to for extended periods.
Headsets are now raising the bar even higher. Adding a dedicated Teams button might sound like a small thing, but it allows users to make the most out of the rapidly growing platform. It interacts directly with Teams to do things like jump straight to a meeting that’s just started or to your missed calls list. Integrated call control also helps avoid awkward “you’re on mute” conversations as you can control your mic on Teams via the headset.
Additionally, Jabra headsets include its ‘busy lights’ which indicate to people around you that you are on a live call so best not disturb. This, of course, is useful now when working from home with the various distractions but will also be particularly useful once workers return to an office environment.
Headsets are becoming more advanced, yet are also making things more simple. Coming soon, there will be deeper integration between certified headsets and the platform. This will allow the user and administrator to use data provided by the headsets such as on device status or usage. By implementing this technology, both the worker and organisation will see benefits to productivity and adoption of professional devices.
Certified devices and devices that meets Open Office requirements are a no brainer, particularly as this quality is available at all price points.
“None of us will be sure what environment we will be working in on a day-to-day basis, so all of the extra quality and functionality which comes with a professional, Open Office headset will be a real differentiator to businesses. Implementing the right technology now will make the option of genuine flexible working possible to staff once offices reopen”
So, it seems you CAN fix things when they’re not broken after all.
And that’s worth making a loud song and dance about!