Work-from-home arrangements are likely to continue, either in a full-time remote work or hybrid model. Many people don’t have space for a dedicated home office, which can create challenges when it comes to conferencing and collaboration.
Even when space is set aside for remote work, the acoustics are usually less than ideal. Most of us have been on a call or video conference when someone’s dog starts barking or their housemate is making noise in the kitchen. It’s impossible to avoid these disruptions altogether. However, there’s a lot that users can do to minimize background noise and optimize conference call quality.
Pick the Right Microphone for Your Needs
The most important thing is to make sure the microphone is as close to your mouth as possible. That’s how sound works. The farther away you are from the microphone, the more likely it’s going to pick up other sounds. Although there is some software processing, a microphone is essentially a dumb object that picks up whatever sound is coming in. It cannot focus on the sound of someone talking and ignore the lawnmower in the background.
The microphone built into your laptop is not good enough. The first step in improving your work-from-home audio experience is to get a good headset with a mic — preferably a boom microphone that comes close to your mouth. The wireless earbuds that come with a lot of phones work pretty well, but the microphone is too far from your mouth and it has to do more processing to get a good clean signal.
Better still, buy the headphones and mic separately. In some cases, you can add a microphone to your existing headset through USB or some other type of connector. These products are increasingly consumer-friendly, so you should be able to get the microphone set up without too much technical expertise.
Consider Noise Canceling Software to Reduce Background Noise
You can download software that adds noise cancellation, but audio processing is very resource-intensive. If you have a basic laptop, it might not work very well. There are also consumer graphics cards for PCs that have software for removing background sounds. Those work really well, but they can be expensive.
If you have a high-end computer or gaming system, you can utilize the graphics processing unit (GPU) for noise cancellation. There are applications that use artificial intelligence to remove most background noise, even in loud environments.
Equip Work-from-Home Agents
Organizations that have customer service and support agents working from home should consider making investments in high-quality audio equipment. National Public Radio has an official sound, and every affiliate station has to use the same microphones and processing software. For companies that have people answering the phone all day, sound quality becomes a branding issue.
There are wired and wireless aviation headsets that do a very good job at noise cancellation. For a relatively small investment, you can ensure that agents can easily be heard without a bunch of background noise.
In Conclusion: Improved Communications & Collaboration Leads to Greater Results & More Productivity
Whatever steps you take to optimize your home office acoustics, ask a trusted coworker how it sounds. A lot of people assume they sound good enough when a few adjustments would make a world of difference.
Humans are really good at filtering out background noise, but it’s difficult for your brain to do. It’s mentally taxing to do that for a long time. The better the audio, the more effective the meeting because people are focused on the content rather than being distracted by background noise.
As a leading systems integrator company, Rahi provides end-to-end AV services, including design, installation, troubleshooting, and management. We offer state-of-the-art products and custom solutions to our clients by partnering with industry-leading brands, such as Poly, Logitech, Jabra, and others to help support global communications between employees, clients, team members, and more.
About Jesse Scarborough
Jesse Scarborough is an audio/visual design engineer with more than six years of experience developing international standards and custom experiences for multiple Fortune 100 companies.