The new normal, as its being called now, is a world of working remote when possible. Many organizations have already decided they will not require employees to come back to the office. Earlier this year when so many companies made the move to remote work, Microsoft saw a significant uptick in Teams usage, most recently seeing as many as 115 million daily users. Other companies like Good Meets, Zoom, and Blue Jeans also saw their share grow with use from schools, businesses, and virtual family gatherings.  

When talking to a client the other day, they apologized for the background noise caused by having their dogs around. A substantial portion of people working remote face similar challenges of background noise at their home, whether its from a pet, roommate, child, partner, or a busy street outside their window. Many members of our team have had to adjust to having more background noise than usual.

This introduces the need for companies like Microsoft to get creative by trying to assist the user in removing distractions from a call in our ‘new normal’. The first thing we saw come out to help with this was virtual backgrounds in Teams. This has helped users personalize their favorite background to eliminate visual distraction during a video call and made users feel more comfortable using a webcam, which is always a win.

The next step (and the thing that has us most excited right now) is a Teams feature called Noise Suppression, available only in the Desktop app (so far). What this feature does is listen to your local background noise and make a choice on the level of suppression needed for the call, which effectively reduces noises that are not your voice.

There are three levels to help you clean up your audio:

  • Auto (Default): will make a choice at the start of the call on how much suppression is needed.
  • Low: removes persistent noise from the background like a laptop fan, air conditioner, or hiss from a microphone. Think of this like the noise cancelling feature on many headphones.
  • High: This will attempt to remove anything that is not considered your voice, such as papers on a desk, kids playing, or dogs barking.

Here’s a demonstration of this feature in action from Microsoft:

The trade off to using this feature comes at the use of resources on your local PC. When you use the High suppression feature it will consume additional CPU cycles, in some cases around 20%. The good part here is, if Teams decides it has used too much CPU or if you do not support the feature, it will be automatically set to low.

While we will never be able to fully mute the background noise in our physical lives, noise suppression features like this one in Teams help to eliminate distractions in video or phone meetings and make our lives easier as we all continue to adjust to our new remote working style.

Innovative features like this are why Emergent Software has standardized to using Microsoft Teams for all our communications. If you’re already using Office 365 and Microsoft Teams and feel like you’re not getting the most out of your subscription, contact us today to take full advantage of the features this powerful suite of tools has to offer.