Anyone who’s worked in an office, especially an open office, understands how noise can be distracting and prevent you from working at peak efficiency.
Noise, in and of itself, can be broken down into two broad categories:
- The noise that your callers hear
- The noise that you hear
This blog will attempt to give you some background on noise in the workplace, and how a noise cancelling headset can help you to better deal with it.
The noise your callers hear
We’ve all been there. Sitting at your desk, on an important phone call, and being distracted by any number of noises coming from your office.
This noise can be very distracting and can cause disruption in concentration and prevent you from being locked in and focused on the phone call. Though some of these distractions might be prevented with some focused site management, noise will always be an issue that needs to be dealt with.
A noise cancelling headset is one of the secret weapons that help to beat back distracted room noise. So whether you’re having to hear the many conversations taking place around the office, the Janitor banging wastebaskets while performing his or her job duties, or the annoying sounds of nearby office machines, these things can be better handled when you use a noise cancelling phone headset.
Noise cancelling headsets have a microphone that works to filter out unwanted background noise while keying in on the sound of your voice. This helps to keep what’s going on around you separate from what’s taking place on your phone call.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming all office headsets have this noise cancelling feature. They don’t. Most do, but some don’t, so you’ll want to make sure that the model you’re looking to purchase has this feature.
Office headset microphones are broken down into these three broad groups:
- Non-noise cancelling
- Noise cancelling
- Ultra noise cancelling
An office headset that has a non-noise cancelling microphone does not filter out any of the surrounding room noise you’re hearing. There’s no sure way of knowing if a headset has this feature or not, without asking your vendor or reading the specifications.
There are clues though.
For example, a Plantronics non-noise cancelling headset can oftentimes be identified by its clear plastic “voice tube” This is the clear plastic piece that runs alongside the cheek with an end that you speak into.
Jabra also has office headsets with non-noise cancelling microphones. These models can sometimes be identified by their thin, steel microphone boom with a black tip on the end.
If you see either of these office headset microphones, chances are they’re not a noise cancelling headset.
As the name implies, an office headset with a noise cancelling microphone works to remove unwanted background noise. Though these office headsets help to filter out this noise, they don’t remove all of it.
When you’re on a phone call, and there’s noise taking place around you, your callers may be able to hear some of the noise, but very quietly and in the background rather than clearly.
The microphone is designed to cut back the noise and pick up the sound of your nearby voice instead.
The vast majority of office headsets today feature noise cancelling microphones, but it’s always a good idea to confirm this before making a purchase decision.
Ultra noise cancelling
Noise cancelling headset that has this kind of microphone, is more uncommon. Though available on some office headset models, it’s not something you’ll see advertised very often.
These microphones are advertised to remove a higher degree of the unwanted background noise. It will sometimes be referenced as a “UNC” microphone, or ultra noise cancelling.
So, if you have a work environment that’s very noisy, an office ultra noise cancelling headset might be worth looking into
The noise you hear
Now that you’ve decided on a noise cancelling headset, there are models that can help to reduce the amount of office noise you hear. If your goal is to minimize noise and distractions so you can better concentrate, then the style of office headset will matter.
The different wearing styles available today include:
- Over the head, covering one ear - mono
- Over the head, covering two ears - duo
- Over the ear
- Convertible - converts from an on ear to an over the head wearing style
Given the available wearing style choices, which do you think would offer the greatest chance of removing unwanted background noise? If you said a duo headset, you get to move to the front of the class. A duo headset, by design, covers both ears. Covering both ears is a great way to help with noise reduction. But, even among duo style headsets, there are variations in the design.
Against the ear or around the ear
As this relates to a duo headset, you have the choice of a model that has an ear cushion that rests against the ear, or an office headset model that has ear speakers that covers the ears completely.
By having your ears completely covered, the distracting room noise has a far less chance of reaching your ear and therefore cannot be processed. If noise reduction is your primary goal, then you should search for a model that has ear speakers that completely covers the ear.
Here’s one example of a headset that has this feature; the Discover D722U which connects to a computer.
If you’d like to take this thought a bit further, you can consider a model that has another sound reducing quality, Active Noise Cancellation, or ANC for short.
ANC headsets have a built in circuit that electronically cancels out unwanted background noise. To activate this feature, you typically just press a button located on the earpiece of the office headset. Once pressed, the feature is engaged and the noise you hear will then be noticeably reduced if not fully eliminated.
One of many examples of an ANC headset is the new Bose 700 UC wireless headphones.
Referring back to the original question of this blog, do noise cancelling headsets work in an office, the answer is an absolute YES. Clearly, there are variations as to each model's effectiveness, but in a general sense, a noise cancelling headset is an effective tool for removing unwanted office noise.
If you’d like to look at a variety of noise cancelling headsets you can see more here.
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