The job I am in at the moment is very much relying on the telephone. However, there are times when I need to do other things while I am talking to customers on the phone. For the longest time I coped by just holding the telephone receiver between neck and cheek, trying not to drop it with an all mighty 'clonk' on the desk when it slips, scaring the person on at the other end.
During a conversation with a colleague I found out that at some time the telephone system in the office came with headsets. I was on to the general manager like a rush, asking him if he knew about the whereabouts of the headsets for the telephone system in our office. The reason I had to ask the general manager was because he was the person who removed the headsets from our office when they were not needed - well, none of my predecessors liked the idea of using them..
After about two weeks I had the elusive headset back on my desk. The manager offered to purchase a wireless headset for me but I decided to stick with what I had - after all, the set was paid for, any new purchase would have to be paid for again, and in this economic climate, I don't want to spend more money than necessary.
=== What's in the box? ===
The headphone set I was given was the GN Netcom 2200 Mono. When I opened the box it was pretty much unused. What I found was the following:
1x instruction booklet in a number of languages
1x storage bag
1x replacement spongy thing for earpiece
The headset itself comes with a microphone part that can be swivelled to adjust to left and right hand (ear) use. The microphone, on a stalk, can be adjusted up or down to sit in the correct position from your mouth. The earpiece can be adjusted to fit over the left or right ear.
While there are many newer and more modern sets out there that use wireless technology or receivers like Bluetooth headsets, the one I have has one earpiece (mono reception) and an adjustable headband with T-bar support that sits on the opposite side where you would normally find a second receiver.
=== How does it all work? ===
There is no big secret how a headset works with a telephone system. All I needed to do was clip the cable into the correct outlet on my phone and try and get the headset adjusted properly to sit comfortably on my head.
Depending on how your phone system works, all you need to do to answer and incoming call is to either press the button that shows the headset (like it does on mine) or hit the incoming call button on the switchboard. As long as the headset is connected it will automatically route the call through the set without you having to list the receiver. There is usually a button on the phone to disconnect the call once it is fished. Another way to end the call is simply to wait for the other party to put down the receiver and the line will automatically disconnect.
To make a call you simply reverse the process. You can press the button with the headset sign, or, if set up properly, just push the line out button - if your system uses one - or any button to get a line out. Then you dial as normal and if you are wearing the headset, it will automatically switch to headset mode.
While connected to the other party, all you need to do is ensure that the boom microphone is positioned close to your mouth but not too close as not to get undesired feedback and you get bad reception but screeching noises or echoing.
=== I Can Hear Voices ===
What you want when you are using a headset is a good quality when it comes to in and out calls. Having the earpiece so close ensures that you can hear the caller without problems. The voice is crystal clear and appears much better quality than picking up the receiver and talking to the person on the other end. I have had people tell me how impressed they were as to how clear my voice was.
I must admit, I like the headset simply because I have the customer talk straight into my ear without me trying to get comfortable with a receiver. I find the voice coming out of the earpiece a lot louder and clearer than through a receiver.
Talking to colleagues who travel a lot and use hands free sets in their cars told me that my voice is much clearer when I use the headset compared to using the telephone in the normal manner by lifting the receiver.
All in all, I find that I can hear customers and colleagues much better and they seem to be able to hear my voice a lot clearer.
=== Look! No hands... ===
There are some very obvious advantages when using a headphone. As I mentioned, the sound quality is great, you feel much closer to the caller and they can hear your voice much clearer than using a normal receiver.
Of course another advantage is that your hands are free to do other things and you do not need to cling onto the receiver, either by holding it in one hand or trying to hold it between cheek and shoulder, desperately trying not to drop it, subjecting the person on the other end to a most horrible clonking sound when receiver hits desk.
You can take messages, use the computer and have full use of both hands while you are on the phone talking to customers and making those most important appointments. For me this is definitely the way to go as I often have to do other things while on the phone and it certainly frees your hands and you can get on with other things while still concentrate on callers.
While you are wearing the headset, you will still be able to hear what is going on around you as only one ear is covered. But it will drown out background office noises like printers and photo copiers while you are talking to customers.
=== Disadvantages ===
While there are advantages to using a headset, there are always a few disadvantages, too.
First of all, my set is wired which means I am physically connected to the main phone when I am wearing my headset. While the wire is quite long, you are still restricted how far you can move from your desk without either pulling the set off your head or strangling yourself.
This headset has a connector plug about half way along the wire. If you want to leave your desk without taking the headset off you just unplug yourself and have the wire dangle by your side. I often have to get up and go over to the printer and unplug myself, put the wire end into my trouser pocket and reconnect when I sit down again.
However, I sometimes forget to plug myself back in and as soon as I push the accept button on my phone for incoming calls, instead of the call coming in through the set, it comes on loud speaker. But, as soon as the wires are connected again, it automatically switches to headset.
Then there is the fact that the earpiece is not the most comfortable one you can get. This headset comes with adjustable headband which sits on the top of your head. The earpiece part feels quite light but after wearing the set for a few hours it gets a little uncomfortable and starts to push down on your ear. I feel that I have to move the earpiece quite often the longer I wear the set and there are times when I take it off altogether and answer calls the traditional way by lifting the receiver just to avoid slight pain.
I wear glasses and the areas where the arm of the glasses rests behind my ears and the earpiece of the telephone headset create a very uncomfortable union. During the days when I opt to wear glasses I am known to favour picking up the phone while during the days when wearing my contact lenses, the headset feels comfortable a lot longer.
=== Recommended? ===
Personally, I would always prefer using a headset to picking up the receiver on a phone but that could have to do with the simple fact that I like to keep my hands free to do other things with.
While it can be uncomfortable to wear for longer times, I wouldn't want to be without it any longer - despite the mocking of my colleagues who do not like to use a headset.
There are much more modern sets around and if you have the money or your company are happy to invest there are wireless options or sets that rest over one ear without headband. I could have done with a more up to date headset but they do not come in cheap.
I am happy with the wired headset I have at the moment. I was offered a wireless set but at around £120- £150 or more, I felt it was unnecessary expense when the company already owned perfectly fine headsets that had never before been used.
Try it, you might like it.