Skype for Business, Cisco Jabber, Avaya Aura or take your pick of dozens of UCaaS platforms. These solutions are being rolled out at breakneck speed and they are changing the way businesses and business people communicate, collaborate and work. For most companies, deploying these platforms means taking a look at the something they may not have considered previously – how to deploy headsets for various employees throughout their enterprise.
Not many businesses have had experience planning for, deploying and managing headsets for a large group of employees. The exception are businesses with employees that are ‘call-centric’ in their work style. The professionals that work in these companies listen to and talk with customers for a living (think stockbrokers or insurance agents or contact center agents). Their work priorities include having a lot of conversations on the phone and being able to get some focused concentration work done when they need to. These workers would never even consider trying to do their jobs without a headset and their employers understand this and are likely to treat headsets as a critical business tool and an important part of their IT infrastructure. Now, however, a whole new generation of businesses are beginning to deploy headsets for UC and productivity reasons, and to entirely different types of employees.
Task-based Workers Need Headsets to Maximize Collaboration, Concentration, Productivity
Several months back we published an infographic highlighting the growth in the headset marketplace, most of which was coming from the unified communications space. As of 2014, UC was already making up 26.5% of the headset market and that segment is expected to grow to over $1 Billion annually worldwide by 2020.
A large portion of that growth is going to come from employees that Bjoern Ekner, Senior Director of Global Product Marketing at Jabra, refers to as task workers. “Task workers are knowledge workers in a myriad of roles that essentially internalize information and collaborate with customers and colleagues for a living in order to create value. They can range from low-mobility employees that work mainly at their workstation, to remote collaborators that interact often with remote colleagues and may work from home, to employees that need to be highly mobile in and around the corporate campus. The majority of these folks have never used a headset before, but once they start using one, the concentration and productivity benefits quickly become apparent and they become converts.”
According to Ecker, these task workers shift throughout the day between needing to collaborate and being able to concentrate and get heads down work completed. (hmmmm, sounds like I’m a UC task worker…although in my case I became a convert about 4 years ago).
When it comes to collaboration, headsets deliver value to task workers in two main areas: sound quality and productivity. “With UC&C, an increasing portion of a knowledge worker’s meetings will take place over their computer or via their mobile phones,” says Ekner. “The right business headset will not only deliver superior sound quality for the user, but also delivers a professional experience for the people they’re speaking with.” We’ve all had calls where the person we’re talking to is using their Apple ear buds on their iPhone to call into the meeting and their voice quality is terrible. Having crystal clear quality on both (or all) ends of the line means a better and more professional user experience.
The other aspect of headsets that task workers will quickly refuse to do without is hands-free conversations. Recent studies have shown that headset use by knowledge workers can increase productivity by up to 40%. Being able to hear and be heard perfectly while having your hands free to type, take notes, present, pull up documents and share important information changes the game for phone calls, web conferences and video calls. The ability to be mobile with a wireless headset increases productivity even more for some users, especially road and corridor warriors.
The ability to quickly transition from collaboration to concentration has never been more important, especially with the rapid rise of open offices. A recent study found that nearly 7 in 10 knowledge workers indicated their productivity was negatively impacted by noise in the office. Headsets can play a key role in creating a ‘personal concentration zone’ for knowledge workers so they can get heads-down work done in the midst of a busy environment. As we covered before:
Unified Communications headsets provide a lot of tech in order to deliver on that promise, including:
- Noise cancelling speakers, so you don’t hear the craziness going on around you
- Noise cancelling microphones, so the people you are speaking with don’t hear the craziness going on around you
- The ability to connect to computers, mobile devices, deskphones or smartphones and switch easily between them
- Notification lights – I love this one. If you are on a call, a light automatically appears on the earpieces of your headset so co-workers know not to interrupt you. A simple click makes these lights come on manually so you can get that ‘head down’ deep thinking work done. A personal ‘do not disturb’ sign.
- Killer acoustics and a universal audio jack so you can listen to your favorite productivity tunes while you work.
These capabilities are seen as increasingly important to businesspeople, according to Ekner. “With so many companies reliant on task based workers, our Evolve series headsets, which are specifically designed to address both the collaboration and concentration aspects of a task worker’s daily routine, is one of our best selling product lines to date.”
Businesses and Vendors Need to Deliver on the Headset Front
The wide scale deployment of UC and the clear business benefits associated with headsets is putting pressure on IT teams to make good decisions when it comes to delivering the right types of headsets to the right employees. Dig Deeper: The Right Audio Endpoints for UC: A Balance of Business Requirements and Personal Preferences
It also means they will need to be ready to manage the headsets once they are deployed. Dig Deeper: What businesses need to know about managing headsets.
Businesses are now frequently looking to their headset resellers to act as trusted advisors and steer them through these challenges effectively. According to Ekner, more resellers are being asked to perform corporate assessments, segment users by role and work spaces, determine the number of wireless headsets necessary, perform wireless density studies and ensure all headsets are optimized to corporate standards. “There is more to a successful roll-out than most people realize and resellers and VARs are stepping up to streamline the process.”
Where does headset deployment stand in your business? Have questions or hard earned lessons to share? Let us know in comment section below.