With work environment trends changing, lots of employees are finding themselves stuck with a unique challenge that was nearly nonexistent when everyone was in the office. Face-to-face meetings don't present the struggles of bandwidth issues, video glitches and the ever-so-frustrating microphone echo loop. Companies are beginning to struggle to find ways to overcome virtual communications that require more than a phone call. In the era of Zoom, there may be some major room for improvement when it comes to quality audio interactions in -- and out -- of the office.

One of the issues that many people who are still in the office face when it comes to audio is how to find a conference room with the correct setup and privacy for their meetings. Lots of offices are configured in a way that doesn't support true quiet and often has a lot of opportunity for a chatty coworker or another phone call to be heard in the background. “We’re trying to solve these problems with microphones that have directed lobes and cut-off points, and it takes a lot of testing, and trial and error,” says Joey D'Angelo, president of Joseph D’Angelo and Associates (DNA), an audiovisual and technology consulting firm.

Regardless of the challenges that come with either remote work and in-office work, still, audio technology could use some improvement. Luckily, there has been a shift in priority and new ideas are emerging to help mask or nearly eliminate background noise. On sound masking engineering, Mark Higgason noted, “You’re not actually quieting anything. What you’re doing is making human speech unintelligible at a distance. You may still hear the mumble of a coworker on the phone, or one coworker who may be much louder in conversation than another—the sound is still there, but it’s unintelligible and it’s not really distracting." Higgason is part of Encompass AV, an audiovisual systems design and integration firm. He also pointed out that the new technologies that are being introduced will support a more cohesive team environment so most people collaborating are on the same type of audio technology and not worrying about crossing wires and sacrificing quality in sound.

With this new hurdle of remote workers having loud kids or office workers lacking private meeting space comes opportunities in noise cancellation devices, applications that can reserve time in certain conference rooms for the best audio experience and even the ability to produce quality audio on lower bandwidth networks.

Read the whole report for more insight on new audio workplace trends and technologies.

To contact the author of this article, email ecouncilor@globalspec.com