Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Headset vs. Speakerphone

Long virtual meetings and conference calls are a thing of reality for a Virtual Employee.  In my home office I utilize both a telephone headset and a professional speakerphone to get my work done.  If you spend as much time on the phone as I do, having both options can be very important.  So let's take a closer look at how I use each one of these devices.


Before we get started, I want to reinforce how important it is to have a good quality phone connection when working from your home or remote office.  It can be very distracting and frustrating to your teammates or clients if there is a lot of static or someones audio keeps dropping out.  You don't want people to think you are on some remote island in the pacific trying to take this call.  You want people to think you are sitting in the office with a crisp and clean phone connection ready to conduct business. 


Telephone Headset


A telephone headset is a must-have accessory for anyone that spends long periods of time on the phone.  Most decent cordless phones have a standard jack for attaching a corded headset.  Some newer cordless phones provide bundled options with a headset.  My two-line RCA phone did not come with a headset but the base unit and the cordless handset have a standard jack.  I was able to find an inexpensive Panasonic Headset on Amazon.com for less than $15 shipped.  


Headsets are the best option if you want sound as clear as possible to the rest of the attendees on call.  With a headset the microphone is right by your mouth and will reduce the amount of background noise you may have in the room.  You will also be able hear the call more clearly since the headphone will be right up at your ear.  You can attached the headset to a cordless phone if you want to be a bit more mobile.  I usually keep my headset attached to my RCA base unit which is right on my desk near the computer.  I found that using the headset with the cordless phone can be a little awkward.  This is where the speakerphone comes in handy.


Speakerphone


A speakerphone is really the best option for hands-free operation especially if you are a participant on a call and not the one running the meeting.  There are several meetings that I have to attend where I may just need to provide a brief status update.  On those types of call where I am doing most of the listening and not the talking, I love using a speakerphone.  It gives me the total freedom to move around the office and do other things as I am listening.  


There are a few things you will want to keep in mind if you want a great experience with a speakerphone.  Make sure you use a good quality speakerphone.  Many cordless phones have a speakerphone option, but they may not be very good.  I was able to find a dedicated, business-class speakerphone on eBay for around $50.  The one I have is the Polycom Soundstation EX.  Amazon.com seems to have some used ones as well.  These speakerphones can get real expensive so that is why I went looking for an older EX model on eBay.  


The great thing about using a true business speakerphone like the SoundStation is the sound quality and the microphone sensitivity.  When the door closed on my office, I can be just about anywhere in the room and the speakerphone picks up my voice very well.  Same goes for the sound quality I hear listening to the people speak on the call.  These phones have great audio quality.  


Conclusion


It doesn't take hundreds of dollars to outfit your home office with good quality telephone accessories for hands-free conference calls.  You can see the benefit in having both a headset for when you are running a meeting or having a one-on-one conversation and also having a speakerphone when you need that extra freedom to move around.