to think that people should not wear headphones and listen to music in the office

(179 Posts)
Jewels234 Sat 19-Jul-14 12:17:52

I work in a very large open plan office, where we sit in individual teams.

More and more people are putting in headphones and listening to music all day...and it's driving me insane! You can hear the 'tsk tsk tsk' noise of their music (I really don't want to be the grumpy one who asks them to turn it down). And if you need to ask a question you look like a complete idiot repeating their name until they realise they are being spoken to.

I know I can't change it...and probably am BU, but it feels unprofessional and unsociable. Also, hearing faint music constantly is so irritating. I can't beat them...so do I join them?

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 13:39:55

I have worked in 7 different offices since I was 22. I'm now 55 and apart from the mail room staff in one office I have never come across any office where music is played either to everyone or by individual headphones.

The situation in a shop etc is completely different. So yes Floyd if you were my employee you would be told to switch it off.

DoJo Sat 19-Jul-14 13:40:59

I love the idea that because some people can't concentrate whilst listening to music, that makes it impossible for anyone to do their job with headphones in. Nitpicking like this, and the attempt to remove any semblance of enjoyment from someone's job because 'they're being paid to work, not listen to music/the radio/drown out the sound of my endless whining' are the main reasons I now work for myself, and I have radio 4 on most of the time as I work much better that way.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 13:43:32

Oh and I know "husband agrees " is a no-no on here but husband in same industry as me has looked incredulous at the question of whether this is /has ever been accepted in any office he's worked in.

goldenhairbrushofwesteros Sat 19-Jul-14 13:47:36

Well I find my team to be far more productive in a more laid back environment so have no issue with anyone listening to music. I also have turned jobs down previously when the environment was too stilted for me.

Given that some like a vibrant atmosphere, some like silence etc, I'd have thought headphones would be a perfect solution, so long as the music doesn't leak out.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 13:48:22

DoJo Good for you. As an employee I'd have been extremely sceptical at "it helps me concentrate" and as an employer I'd be even more sceptical.

Phaedra I have asd, only recently found out. I find the noise and hubbub of my busy open plan office really difficult to deal with -I have sensory issues and can't tune it out at all. I read a book recently which specifically recommended listening to music in that situation and when I tried it out it helped me a huge amount. I listen to classical or jazz and not loudly but it's enough to stop every conversation, movement and ringing phone driving me nuts. So it does help me concentrate.

mousmous Sat 19-Jul-14 14:05:37

we are not allowed to listen to radio in the office. in case we need to attend conference calls or trainings we have special 'one eared' headphones do that we still are able to hear what's going on around us.

DoJo Sat 19-Jul-14 14:08:21

Why would you be sceptical? As my own employee, do you really think I have created a working environment that hinders my ability to work? It doesn't sound like you have much faith in your employees' judgement, which makes me wonder why you hire them.

I don't doubt that there are some jobs and some office environments where music wouldn't be conducive to good performance, but to assume that this means that it is impossible for music to enhance someone's efficiency just seems odd.

Jewels234 Sat 19-Jul-14 14:08:27

I suppose my AIBU was more directed to people who listen so loudly that I can hear it constantly.

For example, the other day a lady who had been listening to music left her desk for 10 mins...but left the music on and playing through her headphones by her desk.

I don't feel like I can keep asking people to turn it down. Would it be really miserable of me to go to HR and ask them to send out some guidelines?

RandallFloyd Sat 19-Jul-14 14:11:38

If I were your employee, Phaedra, I'm quite sure we would have more than this one issue.
Very glad your DH agrees though. I was wondering what his opinion was.

Agree completely, Golden, the choice is what's important.

Of course, it does depend what sort of work is being done and I'm sure there are certain instances where it isn't appropriate but in the majority of places it's an easy, free way to boost morale.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 14:13:54

I don't doubt that there are some jobs and some office environments where music wouldn't be conducive to good performance

And mine is one of them. Why the blanket assumption on here this is normal, standard, everyday behaviour?

I was an employee for many more years than I have been an employer. It would never have occurred to me to listen to music on headphones. It's completely inappropriate.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 14:15:17

Randall I don't think you'd find any employer in my sector who would allow this.

RandallFloyd Sat 19-Jul-14 14:15:52

I don't imagine you would have to keep asking them to turn it down.
Unless they're complete twats I'm sure once will be enough.
I do think it would be a bit heavy handed to go to HR before even asking but certainly if they do it after you've mentioned it then take it further.

I think it's great that they have the option if listening to music but it shouldn't disturb someone who chooses not to,

SwedishEdith Sat 19-Jul-14 14:19:12

No phaedra, it is completely unacceptable in your industry Please stop speaking for all employers

RandallFloyd Sat 19-Jul-14 14:19:21

Fair enough if it wouldn't be appropriate in your sector, my issue was you presuming to speak for every other sector as well.

Also the assumption that no one could possibly do their job and listen to music at the same time is a patently ridiculous one.

DoJo Sat 19-Jul-14 14:20:54

Why the blanket assumption on here this is normal, standard, everyday behaviour?

I don't think I made such an assumption - in fact I was countering your assertion that a person cannot be working if they are listening to headphones, and your stated scepticism that it could be an aid to concentration. I concede that for some people it doesn't help, just curious as to why you are so sure that the opposite cannot be true.

Cruikshank Sat 19-Jul-14 14:21:33

Phaedra and DoJo, glad I don't work for either of you although I suspect that not being able to wear headphones would be the least of my worries.

We can wear headphones where I work. Before it was rolled out as a permanent thing, there was a six month trial run where productivity and performance was closely monitored, together with the impact that managers felt it had on working relationships and practical things like communication etc. It was deemed to be, on balance, a good thing - productivity went up slightly in the case of quite a few people and there were no concerns from managers so now we can all wear them. I reckon if you can hear your colleagues' they've probably got them a bit too loud - I don't always have mine on, but I certainly can't hear anyone else's, especially not above the noise of the phones ringing, the printers churning stuff, the photocopier going, not to mention the sound of general office chat (yes, we do still talk to each other!) - maybe I work in a very noisy place though?

I find that having my music on very low helps me get into a 'zone' when I've got a load of stuff that needs to be done, especially if it's quite repetitive work that you kind of need to get into a rhythm with.

LewisNaiceHamilton Sat 19-Jul-14 14:22:20

I'm guessing, Phaedra, that either your office is very quiet, or the work is process-driven and doesn't require a great deal of concentration. To be honest, this "listening to your music on the time I'm paying you to do a job" thing is pretty hmm - do you begrudge your staff having a sip of water on their paid time? Do you make them clock out to go the loo?

Thankfully my colleagues and I are treated like the adults we are, and are judged primarily on our outputs.

Like Stat, I cannot always tune out all the noise of our busy, open plan office. When I need to word an email very carefully, or have a complex set of data to analyse, the headphones go in. If I have something to digest that can be printed off, then I will do so and take it somewhere quiet, but otherwise I need some music to muffle the hubbub.

Cruikshank Sat 19-Jul-14 14:23:18

Oop sorry not you DoJo - don't know why your name got in there. blush

Sicaq Sat 19-Jul-14 14:23:24

Oh my God, I so agree! It's worse in my office as two people insist on listening to music out loud, and one of them is the manager so you can't say anything. "It's gonna be a musical day today; does ANYONE have a problem with that [hard stare]?"

I hate it. I've taken to wearing earplugs, but that brings its own problems.

inabranstonpickle Sat 19-Jul-14 14:23:59

YANBU - it's obnoxious when people do this. Radio is different as it doesn't close other people off.

I am a teacher and so many children really seem to think it's a massive infringement of their human rights not to have their headphones on while they work!

DoJo Sat 19-Jul-14 14:24:04

Thanks for that Cruikshank, although given that I am arguing in favour of people being allowed to wear headphones, and you seem to want to wear them, I'm not sure why that was aimed at me? confused

LewisNaiceHamilton Sat 19-Jul-14 14:24:36

OP, YANBU regarding rubbishy headphones that leak though. That would irritate the crap out of me.

DoJo Sat 19-Jul-14 14:24:37

Cross post Cruikshank - your job offer is in the post! grin

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 14:25:58

the work is process-driven and doesn't require a great deal of concentration

I'd be accused of stealth boasting if I post anything counter that but , that could not be farther from the truth.

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