Even the most sceptical would have to come to a realisation, that the post-COVID pandemic landscape will not be the "old normal" ever again. The world has had a taste of the future, in particular the workforce has had a taster at the Garden of Eden and I think most of us are hooked. Mark Bouris, founder and CEO of Yellow Brick Road, today said that the communication used to be taken for granted, but now it is non-negotiable. Working from anywhere will be the new normal.
EPOS is a part of the Demant Group, and based on the legacy of the previous joint venture, Sennheiser Communications. EPOS will manufacture and sell the existing Sennheiser Communications portfolio for Enterprises and Gaming co-branded as EPOS | SENNHEISER products, while also introducing a new EPOS branded portfolio.
The EPOS launch panel comprised of:
Mark Bouris - founder and CEO of Yellow Brick Road
Scott Bidmead - Mead Media, former chairman of Headspace in South Australia
Alyce Tran - Co-founder The Daily Edited
Jahan Sheikh - Partner Technical Architect, Microsoft Teams
From their presentation today, a study across 2500 people shows that:
- 95% of modern workforce admits their concentration suffers from audio setbacks
- audio issues can result in 30 minutes of productivity per employee per week
- 35% of end users report feeling frustrated, irritated or annoyed by audio experiences
I am not sure who they polled, but I think 30 minutes of lost productivity per week is a bit low. There is one company I have done work for where it is death by meetings around APAC, and the first 45 minutes wasted with every country asking "Hello can you hear us?".
The challenges of today are how we interact with people around us, and if I can editorialise, a rationalisation and reset in this space has been a long time coming. "Back in the day" when we had to turn up into an office space, spend our minimum 8 hours (7.5 if you are in public service) with our co-workers face-to-face, there is a semblance of being civil in the interest of keeping up facades.
The rise of internet, social media, anonymity has broken down the basic rules of civility, given power to trolls. Combined with the stressors caused by the current pandemic, we are in uncharted territories. People we are used to seeing and speaking to daily, the water cooler conversations, the coffee breaks is not even a luxury we can enjoy. The future of work as agreed unanimously by the panel is a hybrid of on-site and working from home. The survivors will have found better ways to be more efficient, better and more reliable ways to interact with staff and consumers, streamlining. The survivors will have found better ways to be more efficient, will have implemented improved and more reliable methods of interacting with staff and consumers; streamlining.
Jahan Sheikh mentioned that Microsoft Teams have experienced 2 years worth of transformation and growth in just two months across all sectors, particularly healthcare, education and government. 93 of the Fortune 100 companies uses Microsoft Teams, there are 75 million daily users, and a incredible 4.1 BILLION meeting minutes in a single day.
With these sort of numbers, the effect of bad technology, or more precisely, poor technology implementation and bad audio technology will rapidly escalate any impact to productivity. Jahan mentioned meeting fatigue where meetings are endless, you bounce from one to another. My boss mentions it all the time, on reduced working hours, all we do is bounce from meeting to meeting, sneaking in the real work where possible. As I am not a manager in my day job I can chose to opt out of some and blame it on workload, my manage does not have that luxury and I can hear it in his voice every time he calls to bounce something over to me to help out.
Inefficiencies caused by poor technology integration, such as multiple platforms to perform similar tasks (e.g. BlueJeans, WebEx, Teams, Skype etc). Poor audio isolation (e.g. built-in PC microphones and speakers, bargain bin headsets etc) will only add to the frustrations. I know more than a couple of times my earbuds have picked up and amplified my toddler's noise to the point where I have disrupted meetings.
This is where good technology builds key advantages for businesses. Using a headset with active noise-cancelling would have saved me in the example above (I blame my habit of grabbing the nearest available audio gear since I have so many connected to Bluetooth). Today for the launch I had the EPOS Adapt 360 headset, a Microsoft Teams certified UC device. I also had it on for my weekly national team meeting, a few phone calls, and I have deliberately left myself unmuted for most of them. The best part is, no one telling me that my background noise is deafening them, or having a giggle at my toddler singing at the top of her voice.
EPOS launched three key product lines today, which are compatible with all major UC platforms:
Adapt, a series of premium audio solutions for those who need to make flawless business calls from anywhere.
360 - versatile workforce, everyday is different, on the move, focus on work or music
460 - in ear neckband, rich and natural sound, ANC, vibrating neckband for notification
560 - discreet boom arm for open offices environments
660 - designed to maximise focus and productivity, EPOS AI, UC optimised solution, machine learning for microphone performance
Expand, seamless collaboration designed to address the varying needs of professionals working together across workspaces, locations and time zones.
80 - For up to 16 in room participants, 6 adaptive beam forming mics
Impact, perfect for professionals who work in dynamic office spaces, spending long hours talking on the phone.
It is still early days for the Adapt 360 in my arsenal, but the lack of complains in my meetings is a good indicator for me. DRN will follow up with a full review once I have had more time with them. They are available now with major distributors in this space.