In-home offices, open-plan office spaces, small business premises, and call centers, it can be tough to block out all of the noise in order to focus on the job at hand and keep productivity flowing.
Combine these difficulties with an increasingly digital world, remote customer assistance services, and online conversations made through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and remote conferencing applications, and businesses benefit from headsets that take away the distractions and make their staff able to clearly understand and communicate with clients or other employees.
There are many business advantages to products on offer, whether you are looking for the benefit of wireless headphone options, voice-activated controls, choosing between active and passive noise cancelation, or if you are looking for budget-conscious but reliable options to equip full teams of staff. Now, with many employees required to work from hastily-setup home office spaces, being able to tune out distractions is more important than ever.
Below, you can view our top recommendations for business-ready headsets, whether you are in the office worker, working from home, you wish to dampen out the noise around you on the road, or need to equip a team of agents to handle customer communication without distraction.
The Zone Wireless is a Bluetooth headset on offer by Logitech, designed with mobile workers in mind, as well as those in busy, noisy workplaces.
Users can connect their headset to PCs and mobile devices simultaneously within a 30-foot range. The headset is customizable via its accompanying Logi Tune app and is compatible with Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, Google Voice, Zoom, and other applications including Jabber, BlueJeans, and GoToMeeting.
Buttons can be used to control active noise cancellation, starting or ending calls, playing music, and Bluetooth pairing. The microphone's boom can be flipped for muting and unmuting.
Zone Wireless has an estimated battery life of 14 hours talk time, supports wireless Qi charging, and is both lightweight and comes with leatherette ear pads for comfort. The included microphone utilizes isolation technology to separate your voice from background noise, and sidetone controls can be used to modulate your voice to the desired level.
The Logitech Zone Wireless headset is available as three options: the standard wireless headset ($229), the Wireless Plus ($259) which comes with a USB receiver able to connect up to six Logitech Unifying peripherals -- including mice and keyboards up to 10 meters away -- or the MSFT Teams Zone Wireless ($229), built specifically with the Microsoft Teams in mind.
The Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC is an enterprise device that focuses on reducing noise in open office spaces.
The UC-certified Voyager 8200 is best suited for users who need to minimize the disruption caused by chatter around them. The vendor has included dual-paired omnidirectional microphones with digital signal processing (DSP) technology designed to optimize your voice while reducing background noise and has also implemented an "anti-startle" feature that, during calls, will detect and remove sudden increases in signal levels.
Active noise cancellation can be customized depending on the user's preferred level and the headset will automatically detect when the headset is on or off. Buttons can be selected to answer or close calls, play music, and mute or unmute the microphone.
The headset may also suit those who do not want a boom microphone included.
Plantronics says you can expect up to 24 hours of listening time and 20 hours of talk time. The headset is charged via an included USB cable.
Skype for Business, Microsoft Lync, and apps developed by vendors including Avaya and Cisco are supported. The headset is compatible with PCs, mobile devices, and Bluetooth-enabled desk phones.
The Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC can be picked up for $379.95 in black or white, and in both Bluetooth and USB-C variants.
The Sennheiser MB 660 MS a slimline, contemporary option that could help improve your productivity in either traditional or home office spaces.
The wireless Bluetooth product can be connected to mobile devices and communicates with PCs and softphone applications via a Bluetooth USB dongle. Two Bluetooth connections are supported and can be used for applications including Skype for Business.
Three noise-canceling microphones are in play to isolate the user's voice from background sounds and active noise cancelation (NoiseGard) is implemented when the headset is in use.
The MB 660 sports over-the-ear cups for improved noise reduction and folds away neatly, which could make the product more attractive to commuters, as well as an in-flight adapter.
You can also expect up to 30 hours of listening time and the device is charged via a USB cable. 2.5mm and 3.5mm jack cable for mobile use and case are also included.
The Sennheiser MB 660 MS is currently on sale and can be purchased for $273, a substantial discount from the usual list price of $399.$273 at Amazon
The SDW 5000 is an alternative from Sennheiser for users who need more connectivity from their headset. The Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) headset, otherwise considered a cordless phone and speaker combination, sports three lines of connectivity to softphone and PC platforms, desk phones, and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.
Sennheiser's product is UC-optimized, in particular with Skype for Business in mind, and best suited for office use. To reduce distractions and noise from open workplaces, the SDW 5000's microphone sports noise-canceling technology.
The included base station can be used to switch between different audio sources and a mute button on the microphone has been included for convenience. The microphone and boom arm is bendable, and leatherette ear cups have been designed to improve comfort levels.
You can expect up to 14 hours of talk time on a single charge. An advantage of this device is that a 50 percent charge can be achieved in half an hour. In addition, the SDW 5000 has DECT security certification and uses 128-bit encryption.
The Sennheiser SDW 5000 can be purchased for $302. You can also pick up a headset 'busy' light as an accessory for $44.$302 at Amazon
The Jabra Evolve 75 is a wireless, Bluetooth-enabled headset with on-the-ear leatherette cups and a medium-length microphone boom arm complete with active noise-canceling technology.
Best suited for office environments when users may need to answer calls from clients as well as listen to their colleagues, the headset includes volume controls on the side and a feature in which holding the left ear cup will allow users to hear the outside world
There are also useful 'do not disturb' red lights on both cups for when users are on a call. These integrated lights can be set to turn on automatically or to rely on manual control.
The Jabra Evolve 75 can support dual connectivity and is compatible with a variety of desk phones, softphones, PC, and mobile devices. The headset is UC-certified for apps including those offered by Avaya and Cisco, and can also be chosen as a version optimized specifically for Skype for Business.
A Bluetooth dongle is included, permitting users to walk up to 30 feet away from linked devices without breaking connectivity.
The Jabra Evolve 75, without a charging stand, is on sale at the time of writing and can be purchased for $209. If you want a stand for your desk, the bundle will cost $322.$209 at Amazon
It is not always possible to kit out a full team with headsets that cost hundreds of dollars apiece, but if customer communication is key -- such as in a call center -- there are budget-friendly, quality options available.
The Logitech H390 is a lightweight model equipped with padded ear cups, a medium-length headphone boom complete with basic noise-canceling technology, and both in-line volume and mute controls.
This headset is USB A-only and is compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Chrome OS machines. To use, the headset is simply plug-and-play and must be wired to operate -- due to its low price point, there is no wireless functionality or external battery.
The Logitech H390, currently on sale, will suit any budget-conscious user with a price tag of $29.99.$29 at Amazon
The Plantronics CS500 is a premium DECT headset system primed for office use. The wireless device is deemed one of the lightest DECT options currently available and is best suited for those seeking hands-free productivity in the workplace.
Controllable up to 350 feet away from its base station, the CS500 allows users to choose between narrow or wideband and when a headset is close to its charging station, the headset will automatically enter a low-power mode to save power.
Guests are also able to 'subscribe' to a base temporarily by docking their headset.
Controls include one-touch call answering or ending, mute functions, and volume settings. To increase the functionality of the headset, up to three additional headsets can be included on the same call.
A switch cable or lifter can be used to remotely answer calls, and the device is DECT certified with 64-bit encryption to secure conversations.
The basic convertible Plantronics CS500 system has a price tag of $194.99 over at Walmart.$194 at Plantronics
The VXi BlueParrott B450-XT is an enterprise-ready headset billed as an option able to block out up to 96 percent of background noise and therefore is most suited to high-energy and noisy work environments.
Pairable with a variety of Bluetooth-enabled devices, BlueParrott can connect and maintain a link up to 300 feet away and includes either hands-free control or programmable buttons. Two devices can link to the BlueParrott at the same time.
The headset is compatible with Windows, macOS, and mobile devices, as well as Apple and Google voice assistants. You can expect up to 24 hours of talk time, and the average charging time is three hours.
The VXi BlueParrott is priced at $149.99 and is available in a black or oak finish. The headset comes with a USB cable, mobile charger, and both foam and leatherette cushions.$149 at Best Buy
The Plantronics Voyager 5200 is a compact headset that should be considered if users are often required to visit the outdoors during the workday.
Without outside work a possibility, Plantronics has focused on hands-free controls, including a simple whisper of "answer" or "ignore" when it comes to calls coming through. A button has also been included to mute or unmute calls, and the Amazon Alexa voice assistant is integrated.
The vendor's WindSmart technology is geared towards wiping out as much external noise including wind and talking, a crucial element to make outside calls clear. The inbuilt microphone will also adapt depending on noise levels.
The standard Plantronics Voyager 5200 is priced at $119.99. If you want to include a vehicle power charger unit -- particularly of use for workers on the road -- the Plantronics Voyager 5220 can be chosen instead for the same price. You can also pick up a portable charging case for an additional 14 hours of battery life.
The Comexion Bluetooth headset is a light, flexible headpiece for grab-and-go workers on the road. Capable of connecting two devices simultaneously, the affordable headpiece includes separate volume and mute buttons, a microphone with basic noise-cancellation, and an adjustable ear hook. The device is compatible with PCs and iOS / Android mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.
Comexion's headset takes roughly 1.5 hours to charge and users will need to recharge their device after roughly six hours of passive music streaming or 6.5 hours of talk time. Users can expect a connectivity line-of-sight range of 33 feet. A USB power cable and two sets of replacement earbud tips are included. You can expect to pay $29.99.
When ZDNet originally compiled this list, the focus was on ways to dampen the noise in traditional office settings. This seems a world away from the current reality in the business world, with many employees working remotely and from home offices -- while attempting to remain distraction-free -- and others on office visit shift patterns to reduce the risk of.
In either scenario, however, environmental noise can be a hindrance to productivity -- whether it is caused by a pet dog barking, children downstairs, or a colleague. Therefore, despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a noise-canceling headset is a worthy investment and can be a valuable piece of kit during working hours.