Collaboration

How audio calls fit into the corporate world today

Communication technology is giving the audio call new life

By the team at SlackJune 21st, 2024

Audio calls once dominated corporate communications, with office phones ringing off the hook and overseas partners dialing into teleconferences at odd hours. But times have changed—for many, picking up the phone has lost its luster, or even become a daunting task.

Still, the audio call isn’t dead. It’s just different.

In place of overflowing voicemail boxes and sky-high phone bills, we’ve seen today’s remote and hybrid teams turn to digital communication platforms. Cloud-based solutions such as Slack combine audio calls with business messaging, third-party apps, video conferencing and collaborative canvases, all on one centralized platform. Today the audio call is just one valuable device in a diverse, AI-powered office toolkit.

Here’s how to fit audio calls into your 21st-century workflow.

A reintroduction to audio calls

No matter how many fancy communication tools you add to your arsenal, sometimes you’ll just need a simple audio call. A survey by RingCentral and Ipsos found that 80% of employees prefer voice over written communication for asking questions and discussing issues with colleagues. But that doesn’t mean you have to start handing out your cell number to coworkers.

Slack huddles lets you hop on a spontaneous audio call right in the Slack platform, no context switching required. A huddle goes beyond the basic phone call with these features:

  • Turn on your video or share your screen for a more dynamic conversation
  • Liven things up with fun effects, customizable backgrounds and emoji reactions
  • Share files, links and messages during your huddle; they’ll be automatically stored for easy reference after the call ends
  • Bring a Slack canvas into your huddle for easy agenda access and real-time collaboration or note-taking

Audio calls vs. video calls

Most employees say they would choose voice over video calls for difficult conversations, RingCentral reports, while 48% prefer communicating sensitive data and information via audio calls.

Here are a few benefits of audio calls compared with other communication methods.

Easier on the eyes

Audio can be less cognitively demanding than video for virtual meetings. It can be tiring and overstimulating to keep your camera on, especially if you spend a lot of your workday in meetings.

Screen fatigue is real, with some experts estimating that more than 50% of computer users struggle with one of the symptoms, digital eye strain. Research shows that besides physical symptoms like headaches, neck pain and blurred vision, screen fatigue can lead to psychological symptoms like frustration and tiredness.

Audio calls can bring some welcome relief from digital eye strain by removing the visual element from meetings.

Synchronous conversations

Unlike asynchronous communication methods like text and email, audio calls facilitate discussions spontaneously, instantly and in real time, ideal for urgent topics and quick decision-making.

Fewer distractions

Audio calls cut out any visual stimuli that may distract us from actively listening to a conversation. They encourage participants to pay closer attention to each other’s tone, inflection, pace and other verbal cues, fostering deeper understanding and more effective communication.

Less pressure on appearance

Removing physical appearance from the equation helps some people feel more comfortable expressing themselves in work calls. You can hop onto an audio call without feeling the need to change into professional attire or fix your hair.

More location freedom

While video-based meetings usually require you to stay put at your desk, you’re free to move around during an audio-only conversation, in case you think best on your feet (or on your couch). And if your cat knocks over a plant or your kid spills their juice during your call, no worries—you can multitask as needed.

Video calls demand a stronger internet connection as well. Audio calls work better in areas with weaker signals, in case you want to take a call from the car (or the woods).

Plus, if you work from home, audio calls can protect your privacy during meetings and help keep your personal space, well, personal.

Choosing the right audio call solution

Audio call apps give you more options for making voice calls, but it can be tough to narrow down the best tools. Here are the most important factors to consider when selecting an audio call solution.

Real-time voice communication

This core feature lets users make voice calls in real time over the internet, enabling distributed teams to collaborate without noticeable delays (or high phone bills). An audio call app should have low latency, for a natural conversational flow and effective, frustration-free communication.

High-quality audio

Your audio call app should use advanced audio codecs to deliver crisp, clear sound quality. Callers should be able to understand each other even in noisy environments or with slow internet connections. An app may even incorporate noise cancellation and reduction technologies to minimize background noise and echo effects.

Group calls and conferencing

Your chosen app should support multi-party calls, which allow more than two users to meet and collaborate via audio call. You should also be able to add new participants mid-call when needed, such as to consult a colleague with specialized knowledge when a niche customer question comes up.

A good audio call app includes features such as muting, adding and removing participants, and designating speakers. It may also offer tools for scheduling calls and sending meeting invitations.

End-to-end encryption

Audio call apps for businesses should ensure data privacy and security by encrypting all voice packets transmitted among participants to prevent unauthorized access and eavesdropping. This feature is also essential for complying with industry standards and data privacy regulations.

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) collaboration

For a company BYOD policy to be effective, its audio call app should support various device types (including smartphones, tablets and computers) and operating systems (such as iOS, Android, Windows and MacOS). The app also needs mobile device management (MDM) features to ensure security.

Ease of use

Your company’s audio call app should be easy to learn and use. Choose a solution with an intuitive interface and strong customer support resources in case technical issues crop up.

Scalability

Your business isn’t set in stone, so your audio call app shouldn’t be either. Look for a flexible audio call solution that will let you scale up for additional users as your organization grows.

Integration capabilities

Your chosen app should meet company requirements and support your team’s existing workflows. For the most robust audio calling experience, ensure that your app integrates with the technologies your team already uses, such as its CRM and calendar software.

Popular audio call providers

Several companies offer stable, high-quality audio calling services on user-friendly platforms. Check out these top providers, all of which integrate with Slack.

Zoom

Zoom, one of the most-used teleconferencing apps on the market, features a highly scalable platform that accommodates organizations of all sizes. Though Zoom is particularly popular for video conferencing, it also lets users on the go dial into meetings on an audio-only basis using just their phones.

Google Meet

Built on Google’s robust infrastructure, Google Meet offers strong audio quality, reliable services and customizable privacy controls. Its screen-sharing and recording capabilities support large group calls and work well across devices and platforms. You can even use the “/meet” command to launch Google Meet directly from Slack.

Huddles

Built into the Slack platform, huddles lets you instantly connect using audio, video or screen sharing. Count on Slack’s reliable performance, collaboration-forward features and robust security measures to keep your huddles effective and secure. Share links and files during a huddle, and they’ll all be automatically saved for easy access after the call ends.

Best practices for high-quality audio calls

Follow these best practices to ensure a seamless experience during any live audio call.

Use reliable equipment

A good headset with a first-rate external microphone can reduce background noise and improve sound quality for a better overall audio experience. Check your home or office internet setup to ensure you have a stable connection with sufficient bandwidth.

Set the scene

Choose a quiet environment with soft furnishings or acoustic panels to conduct your audio calls. Enable your audio call app’s noise suppression and echo cancellation features to further boost quality, and make sure to install software updates as they become available to keep your sound as crisp as possible.

Know where to go if you have audio call issues

Most audio call providers offer self-service troubleshooting support to help users resolve issues quickly. For example, Slack huddles features a troubleshooting panel providing helpful tips and fixes for common problems.

Ensure security and privacy during audio calls

Implement security mechanisms like end-to-end encryption and two-factor authentication. Have all team members enable these features on their devices and use unique login credentials for their accounts.

Control access with unique meeting IDs and passwords, and set up waiting rooms to screen participants before they join a call. Also, conduct audio calls in private locations, or use headphones to prevent eavesdropping.

Integrate a note-taking app

Effective meeting notes can help you keep track of any questions, decisions, action items and responsibilities covered during an audio call. Your app should support third-party integrations, so find a note-taking tool that integrates with your audio call app to make taking meeting notes easy and efficient.

For example, these notes apps integrate with Slack:

  • Notes by Notejoy: Supports simple, fast, focused note-taking for teams
  • Notion: Provides an interconnected workspace including notes, files and projects
  • Evernote: Makes it easy to jot down thoughts and clip conversations
  • Canvas: Comes built into every Slack channel and is available for specific Slack threads and huddles for collaborative note-taking

Make audio calls seamless with Slack huddles

Context switching can get confusing and tedious, so why not make and take your audio calls where your work already happens? Huddles empowers you to hop into on-the-spot conversations with coworkers, clients, partners and vendors without ever leaving Slack. And that efficiency adds up: teams using huddles report a 37% increase in productivity.

Use huddles to share screens, exchange files, take notes and save conversations for future reference. And you can chat away with peace of mind thanks to Slack’s enterprise-grade security features.

Was this post useful?

0/600

Awesome!

Thanks so much for your feedback!

Got it!

Thanks for your feedback.

Oops! We're having trouble. Please try again later!

Keep reading

Collaboration

The best video conferencing platform for remote and hybrid teams

Find the right video conferencing platform based on your team’s unique needs

Collaboration

Organizational charts explained: a beginner’s guide

Make your company’s org chart work as hard as you do

Productivity

Four ways to ditch meetings and improve team collaboration

Don’t let another meeting gobble up your time and money

Productivity

Top AI researchers share five insights on how AI will shape the future of work over the next five years

Experts from MIT, Northwestern, and Stanford universities share their take on what leaders can do to prepare their teams for the AI revolution