There’s no denying the power of the conference call, and there’s plenty of statistics to back this up. They are powerful tools for retaining talented employees, according to a Stanford University study. That study found that employee turnover dropped more than 50 percent when employees were allowed to work from home and collaborate through conference calls. They also drive efficiency, as that same study also found that remote workers were more productive when conference calling from home. When the proper conference call technology is installed, and it’s properly configured, a conference call is an inexpensive, effective communication tool. When audio quality issues intrude, though, conference calls can do more harm than good. Ask any AV integrator what the number one priority is for a conference call, and they’ll say “good audio quality.” It’s not a surprise that audio quality is essential when conference calling, but even that understates its importance.
Workers struggle with poor audio qualityPoor audio quality poses several problems, to the employees on the call and for the company’s image. How does it affect your team?
- Impaired cognitive functioning – When audio quality drops, listeners must devote more energy to processing what is being said. This is termed “effortful listening,” and it is linked to poor memory encoding and higher stress levels. Poor audio quality reduces your team’s ability to operate at a high level, which is particularly troublesome during strategy meetings.
- Reduced focus – If poor audio quality is a problem, it’s likely that background noise is at least part of it. If ambient noise isn’t suppressed during a call, it will distract participants to the point where they will have trouble remembering what is being said. Biologists have long known that our sense of hearing is less effective at multitasking than our sense of sight. Normally, our ears focus on the loudest or most persistent sound, and if that’s background noise, those ears aren’t focusing on the speaker.
- Physiological symptoms – Being subjected to poor quality calls means the brain and ears are working extra hard to retain information. If parts of the conversation are difficult to hear, the brain must compensate by filling in the blanks. It’s no surprise, then, that workers are more likely to report headaches and fatigue after a difficult conference call.