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Virtual communication tools that became indispensable during the pandemic have contributed a significant role as the world moves from a state of crisis to recovery, according to a report by global audio brand Epos.
Investing in the age of listening: the importance of audio in a reimagined world finds that organisations recognise the crucial role that these tools play in hybrid working models with global businesses reporting a 7% increase in investment in individual audio equipment in the past year and 6% for shared audio equipment.
Audio importance increases, decision makers listen to demand
Epos says the return to office is a gradual process, and full-time attendance is unlikely to ever reach pre-pandemic levels. Individuals are keen to retain the changes to workflows they perceive as positive from last year—and for many, hybrid working falls into this category.
But the potential for digital burnout caused by strained virtual communication remains a possible pitfall.
Organisations are mindful of both of these factors as evidenced by the increased emphasis on audio quality. Audio contact is now considered essential or very important for the last three quarters.
The report finds this to be the case across all markets with the Asia Pacific region expressing particular conviction: 96% of those surveyed in China and 90% in Australia recognised the increase in importance.
Further, the findings do not simply consider the value of audio in isolation. Respondents to Epos’ report rated audio equipment as more important than a laptop or PC across a range of scenarios, including conference calls, virtual meetings, communicating with clients/colleagues and working remotely.
“As workers prioritise their well-being and work-life balance to prevent digital burnout, employers must come to the table with robust solutions, or risk losing key talent. The majority of Australian employees place high importance on audio quality, and leaders must figure out what technology works, what management practices fit, and how to refine the existing processes,” explains Epos sales director ANZ Geoff Crane.
“The hybrid model offers huge advantages for businesses and their employees, but only if challenges surrounding communication and collaboration are met. Technology provides an answer if businesses invest wisely,” he continues.
Quality matters, but guidance is needed
Audio recognition in organisations has led to an increase in the willingness of businesses to invest in audio solutions.
High-quality audio equipment is essential for 54% of decision makers, and nearly three quarters (72%) say they spend more to get a higher quality product.
But alongside investment in quality, consultation about audio equipment with employees is viewed as either essential or very important to help inform decisions by the majority (70%) of the survey respondents.
88% of businesses also believe there is a need for better policy and regulation for home working set ups.
These findings indicate that over the coming year, we may see consultation with employees about the technology they need to support effective hybrid working (particularly around audio) influencing buying decisions.
Finance sees potential in audio investment
Breaking down Epos’ report findings by sector, finance organisations are the most positive about future audio investment with 71% of respondents expect it to increase.
Manufacturing and IT and Digital are closest behind, with 67% and 64% concurring respectively.
Financial companies are also most likely to invest regularly. 46% of decision makers from finance said they plan on investing every year with 40% of those from the media and insurance industries also planning annual spend on audio.
This prioritisation of audio spending by finance in particular and other sectors where secure communications are paramount (IT and digital) is fairly logical.
But adaptation to hybrid working is visible across all industries: 50% of decision makers are planning to provide (or have provided) everyone with one set of audio equipment each (to use both at home and in the office).
“The shift from crisis to recovery will require business leaders to step back and listen carefully to their audiences to get closer to what it is they really want: comfort and reassurance,” concludes Epos president Jeppe Dalberg-Larsen.
“If they can get this right, the path to productivity will be easily unlocked. While different sectors have varied needs, the needs of consumers will continue to evolve to push for better quality products and an overall better work experience. Sectors that are less advanced in providing this experience to their staff and customers will need to play catch up at some point in the future,” Dalberg-Larsen concludes.
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