As the country moves toward temporarily working from home, I’d like to help with some inexpensive tips that will make you more professional and more productive at home.
Reduce Background Noise
It may seem obvious but pick the room with the lowest ambient noise. Close the windows and doors. If you are getting activity noise from within your home leaking through the closed door (washing machine cycle, kids playing, etc), do a light test in the evening by switching a bright light on behind the door and see where the light gets through (see picture). This is also where the noise is getting through.
Consider fitting a dense acoustic door seal kit to tightly block up any gaps around the frame and a rubber threshold/drop seal/draughter excluder for gaps under the door.
Switch your mobile phone to silent, and if keeping it on vibrate, put it on a soft surface like an upturned mouse mat.
Use a Landline
Although mobile phones are much more popular, landline call quality still far surpasses mobile and is also the most consistently reliable. Whenever possible, try to dial into a conference call from a landline rather than a mobile phone.
Using a Mobile Phone?
Do not use speakerphone (unless you are just listening while using mute). Most iPhones (iPhone 6 onward) and Android phones now offer “WiFi calling”.
It is just a setting that you turn on and helps in case of any mobile signal blackspots in your home. Once enabled you can just use your phone as normal, the person you’re calling doesn’t even need to have WiFi Calling.
Note: Some UK providers will disable “wifi calling” on their cheapest SIM only deals.
Using a Laptop or Tablet
Try to use a hard-wired Ethernet connection instead of WiFi. If using WiFi and getting a glitchy or lagging connection, it could be your WiFi signal strength or internet speed. Try to be in line of sight of your internet router, and ask no one in your home to stream from the internet while you are on a call.
Use a Headset
With landlines, mobile phones, laptops and tablets you can typically improve upon the built-in speakers and microphone by using a headset to hear and speak. Ideally, the headset should have a flexible mic boom, this positions the microphone closer to your mouth and less able to pickup the sound from the speaker. A headset hardwired to whatever device you’re using will improve sound quality and reduce feedback and echos.
Use the mute
If you are not talking, use the mute! This is especially important if there are multiple people in the conference. This reduces the noise within the conversation and stops feedback loops. It is not just good etiquette; it improves the experience and avoids other participants getting frustrated with you.
I hope that helps some of you. Please help me by liking/following/sharing my post and stay tuned for some more home office acoustics tips in the coming days (social media links below).
If you would like any more in depth professional advice, please get in touch.