During lockdown, like most organisations, 1plex adapted our working practices with all staff working from home. As a company we are used to working with Skype, Teams and Zoom so we very quickly developed new working practices. The amount of time spent in online meetings internally, with customers and partners was raised dramatically.

Returning to the office we continue to spend an increased amount of time in online meetings but now from a busy office where multiple people are on calls at the same time, it does come with increased background noise. The devices we purchased to equip everyone working from home where it worked perfectly, suddenly didnt work so well back in the office.

 

The biggest example of this is headsets, a number of us purchased ‘ear bud’ style devices which we have been delighted with, they’ve worked happily for the last 6 months and we appreciate the comfort and freedom they provide and the excellent audio experience. However, within a couple of weeks of being back in the office we’ve had numerous comments that we can’t be heard over the  background noise being picked up by the microphones.

Out of interest we ran a quick test of the devices used by members of the team. As Microsoft Communication partners we always encourage and advocate the use of certified devices so try to practice what we preach, there is one notable exception to the equipment used in the test which is the Microsoft Surface Earbuds, these are not certified but we have a set in use so included them in the comparison.

The table below lists the equipment and observations from the test.

(To perform this, we ran a basic but effective test. This involved positioning two people with laptops and headsets approx 5m apart, both joined to a Teams call. The first person muted the microphone on their headset and then spoke out loud, at the same time listening to hear if their voice could be heard (echoing through the remote mic). Where they could hear their own voice, this showed the headset at the remote end was picking up background noise in the office and this test was deemed to fail)

Headset MS certified Pass/Fail Form Comment
Jabra Evolve 65T Yes Fail Earbud My favourite device for using at home but really not suited to the office background noise. Picked up lots of background noise so unusable.
Jabra Evolve 75e Yes Pass Necklace style Worked really well, no background noise detected.
Jabra  Evolve 65 Yes Pass Overhead with boom microphone Worked perfectly, no background noise heard
Plantronics Voyager 6200UC Yes Fail Necklace style Very similar to Jabra Earbuds, great device to use in quiet environment but not suited to our open plan office.
Plantronics Voyager Focus Yes Pass Overhead with boom microphone Worked perfectly, no background noise heard
Microsoft Surface Earbuds No Pass Earbud Not certified but the surprise showing in this test. Paired with MS Surface Laptop these worked really well with background noise well suppressed and fine for use in our office

 

The conclusion is to be careful with your choice of headset and be aware that the device which works well at home may not back in the office. The challenge is that you won’t necessary know if your headset is causing a problem unless other people on the call tell you. Although not included in this test we have found the same issues with Apple Airpods and wired phone/tablet ear pieces.