Can you repeat that, I cannot hear you properly? So sorry about the background noise, it is my dog barking. The world is certainly changing, and more and more meetings are done online. Being listened to and hearing is critical to your success in business. This guide will look at why you might consider a headset for business and what you should consider in making a purchase decision.
WHY should I use a headset for business?
There is a very good reason you see so many people wearing headsets on a Zoom call, and there are actually more benefits than just improved sound quality.
Benefits of Headsets
- A two-headphone headset covers both ears reducing background noises
- The microphone correctly positioned improves your voice quality and ensures that quality is consistent as the microphone is not moving like you would move a phone as you hold it.
- Some headsets use noise-cancelling technology, which can both reduce the effect on the background noise of your hearing and your speaking
Productivity and Mobility
- Both your hands will be free to use a computer, make notes or handle documents
- Wireless handsets allow you to walk around your office/house and not be confined to your desk
- If away from your desk, you can still answer your phone, reducing voicemail and increasing customer service
Neck Pain and Ergonomics
- If you make lots of calls and cradle the phone on your neck, this can very quickly lead to neck/back pain as well as lead to bad posture
- A comfortable headset can be used for hours with no discomfort
WHAT do I need to know about headsets for business?
A headset can be bought very cheaply but is unlikely to have the audio quality and be very comfortable.
Gaming vs business headsets
There are headsets designed for gamers and headsets for the office type environment. Both are designed for their specific purpose. Gaming headsets could be used for zoom calls but tend to be bulky, over-ear and tuned for deep sound and surround audio. Headset for business are lightweight, can be used all day and designed to work well with audio and video chat applications like Zoom or Teams.
Wired or wireless
A headset for business can be either wired or wireless. A wireless headset will give you wire-free freedom, but a wired headset is not prone to wireless interference. Some units have the option of using both. A wired headset cable is likely to wear and possible break over time.
A wired headset can be bought with different connectors, normally depending on what it is connecting to. Typical connectors include:
- 3.5 mm headphone jack – will fit most PCs
- 2.5mm headphone jack – typically found on older phone systems and cordless phones
- RJ11 – connector used to connect a fixed-line phone to a wall socket. Some phones have this extra socket, or you can get a splitter(connecting this way may require an amplifier to increase the volume)
- USB Type-A – typical USB plug on your PC
- USB Type C – newer style USB socket that you will find on PCs and smartphones
A wireless headphone is most likely to work via Bluetooth, giving you a range of up to 30m. A wireless headset will need to be charged; thus, charge times and talk time will need to be considered. Because the unit contains batteries, it is likely to be heavier than a wired unit.
HOW do I choose the right headset for business?
Microphone quality – a directional microphone will receive sound from a certain direction only, whereas omnidirectional will receive sound from all directions. Look for a headset with a boom mic or stalk, which will put the microphone closer to your mouth and improve audio quality.
Audio quality – I am sure you have heard the difference in sound reproduction from a good speaker. A headset is no different. Technically, the sound is produced in low bass notes and high treble notes referred to as frequency response. Your hearing range will be approximately 20Hz to 20,000Hz, so look for a headphone that can support this range. The end result, you will be able to hear what people say better.
In-ear, on-ear, over-ear– refers to the type of headphone. In-ear being an in-ear earbud, on-ear, a foam pad sits on your ear like an aircraft headphone. Over-ear completely covers your ear in a cup. The style you choose comes down to personal choice, comfort and how much background noise is let in.
Comfort is critical – which will come down to personal preference, which is tough to know if you have not used a headset before. In-ear and over-ear tend to cut out background noise as they provide a seal. This is great for cutting out that background noise, but some still want to hear what is happening around them. On-ear headphone sits on the flat surface of your ear and can become uncomfortable on the ear after many hours. Similarly, the over-ear headphone (your ear fits inside a cup) can feel uncomfortable on your skull after many hours as they tend to be heavier. Thus the weight of any of the headphones should be a consideration.
Headband – If choosing a headband model, the weight of the headset will rest on that headband; thus, look for models that are adjustable and comfortable on your head.
Ear cups – the materials these are made of will determine how long they last and contribute to comfort. The type of foam used, like memory foam in more expensive models, may be a worthwhile investment. Fabric outer covers will breathe better, but leather-like material may wear better. In-ear models should come with different size silicone plugs to suit your ears.
Single ear or stereo (both ears) – For noisy environments, dual headphone or stereo headphones will cover both ears, aiding your ability to hear the conversation clearly. Alternatively, a single headphone allows you to hear more ambient noise while providing a lightweight, comfortable fit. The single headphone can be chosen as a headband model or a low profile over the ear headset. Some over the ear models may affect the wearing of glasses and be less stable. Over the ear, models will not affect your hair.
Cable – If you select a cable model, how long is the cable and is there a quick disconnect that allows you to keep the headset on but disconnect the cable.
Recharging and run time – Look for wireless headphones that will give you a reasonable talk time even after only a 5-minute charge. This will get you out of trouble when you forget to charge them. Also, take note of the talk time represented in hours, for example, 10 hours of talk time would get you through a full working day. Some models come or have a charging stand available as an accessory. This is convenient to hold and charge the headset when not on your head instead of a charging cable that must be plugged in.
Volume and mute button – The ability to change the volume on the headset is convenient. A mute button allows you to quickly remove unwanted noise when you are not speaking. Mute on some handsets is achieved by raising the mic boom.
Durability-A quality headset should last you 3 years. After this point, battery life will start to take its toll. If a headset seems flimsy and is low cost, it probably not going to last very long.
Noise cancellation – This technology can be integrated into both the microphone and the headphones. Either way, it is a technology to electronically reduce background noise so you can hear more clearly and your voice is heard more clearly. We strongly support this feature.
Busy Light – This handy feature lets work colleagues know when you are on a call.
Certification – Look for official accreditation from the collaboration software vendor like Microsoft teams, Zoom, Cisco etc. This certification ensures your new headset will work well with that vendor and may possibly provide additional functionality.
Warranties – A good warranty and a supportive reseller will quickly resolve issues and get you back on calls.
A headset microphone should be positioned below or to the side of your lips. Avoid putting it in front of your mouth, or everyone will hear you breathing – think Darth Vader!
Headsets can be bought at retailers like Officeworks or JB Hifi. Still, you might be better looking for a specialist retailer that can provide you with informed advice.
Using a headset only for video calls, consider how your headset makes you look and realise that a wireless headset may be of no benefit.
Wireless headsets can also be used with a smartphone by vehicle drivers and commuters to improve their call quality.
Also, see Small Business Answers review of a Wired versus a Bluetooth headset.
SUMMARY – Which headset should I buy?
A headset for business can improve productivity and reduce back and neck pain.
When deciding on a headset, consider these three factors:
- Mobility – corded versus wireless
- Wearing style – personal preference of comfort and practicality
- Environment – how loud will it be where you will use it
Way up what features are important to you in making your purchase decision.