Guide: Using speech recognition in an open plan office
Voice Recognition Australia has trained thousands of people – many are government employees – who are using Dragon Naturally Speaking in an open plan office over the last 21 years. We are often asked to advise supervisors and other employees about how to minimise any possible issues arising from using Dragon in an open plan environment. Our experience is that most people are understanding and appreciative of what this technology can do in the workplace.
Dragon is in use in open plan offices by thousands of users in Australia. Approximately 80 percent of our training is conducted in an open plan situation. This guide will help ensure that the transition to speech recognition is smooth and that the users become more effective in a short period of time.
Using Dragon in an open plan environment can concern users and supervisors. They are often worried about annoying co-workers but are not usually concerned about the content of the dictation.
Dictating to Dragon is no different to talking on the telephone in an open plan environment. Employees say all sorts of things on the telephone in range of their co-workers. Dictating to Dragon is similar to talking on the phone, except users are completing tasks – not just chatting to friends about their weekend. Employees are going to continue to use the telephone in this open plan environment. The noise created by a Dragon user is no different than that of someone who is using their telephone.
Usually, dictating is at a subdued level compared to a telephone conversation. A quality digital noise canceling digital headset will allow you to dictate in a normal voice or at a slightly lower volume. In other words, it's usually quieter using Dragon then it is talking on the phone. Noting of course – each user is different.
There is an organisational need to use speech recognition and supervisors can advocate for the users well in advance – ensuring success. We advise users to tell their co-workers that they are about to use Dragon full-time in advance. This can relieve any unnecessary concerns by engaging in a consultative dialogue. If co-workers express concerns – despite this pre-emptive discussion – then we recommend that users address this with their supervisor.
To further reduce the impact of dictation in an open plan office, look at how the desks are positioned. If possible, install a desk partition. Simply speaking away from other people can dramatically reduce the volume – so look at desk orientation as well.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking also works best where the environment deadens sound, such as areas with carpets, heavy drapes, or blinds. Hard surfaces such as hard floors, glass windows, granite counters, and metal furniture cause echoes that you don’t notice but that Dragon NaturallySpeaking may. Most government offices are very quiet, so this should not be an issue.
Employees talking on the phone, doors closing, air conditioning and other sounds will have a negligible impact on speech recognition accuracy – providing the user has the correct noise canceling microphone.
We can advise you on technical microphone requirements.
Speech recognition is usually three times faster than typing, so there are many benefits that will arise from the use of this technology – including an increase in productivity and a reduction in the number of injuries from typing.
The guide is available as a free PDF.
Download Open Plan Office Speech Recognition PDF
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