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 do I join them?

angelos02 Sat 19-Jul-14 12:20:56

YANBU. Nothing wrong with headphones in the office but you shouldn't be able to overhear the noise.

2cats2many Sat 19-Jul-14 12:24:20

You must work in a very quiet office! People wear headphones in our office to drown out some of the noise of other people talking, laughing and moaning when they need to get some stuff done. There's no way I'd be able to hear the 'tsk, tsk, tsk' noise over that.

Yamyoid Sat 19-Jul-14 12:25:36

I was so pissed off when headphones were banned in my office. I had a shit job and listening to radio 6 made my life so much more pleasant. But a small minority of people selfishly caused the ban by having music too loud and not being aware when they were being spoken to.
So Yabu as long as people use them respectfully.

IfYouCouldSeeMeNow Sat 19-Jul-14 12:27:06

Loads of people wear headphones in my office.

I just wave at them until they notice me. No big issue?

There would be arguments if they were asked to stop!

BolshierAyraStark Sat 19-Jul-14 12:39:17

As said above, the office must be very quiet...hmm

I work in an open plan office & regularly use earphones though I do so considerately.


Andrewofgg Sat 19-Jul-14 12:42:53

YANBU. In a working environment if you can hear somebody else's music it's too loud.

TheSpottedZebra Sat 19-Jul-14 12:43:21

THey need to get better earphones if you can hear the noise. They're iphone earphones aren't they? they've got better, but they are still shite.

I wear earphones in the office. Mostly I am listening to music - it helps me concentrate, drowns out others' noise esp those who TALK REALLY LOUDLY WHENEVER ON THE PHONE. But sometimes the music isn't switched on, and I am just pretending to listen to music so that I won;t be interrupted every minute.

Besides, we all have email/instant messager, so if you can't catch their eye with a wave and can't be bothered to tap them on the arm, you can just message them. Unless they've turned off messager.

scarletforya Sat 19-Jul-14 12:44:37

Are you an incessant talker, noisy desk eater, sniffer, tongue clicker or tea slurper?

If everyone else is wearing headphones except you, then maybe the reason is you! shock

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 12:47:18

How can they be working whilst listening to music on headphones?

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 12:48:04


Jewels234 Sat 19-Jul-14 12:48:48

Haha yep maybe the earphone thing is feedback that I should take on board!

Ok, I am being unreasonable. I might join them on Monday.

doziedoozie Sat 19-Jul-14 12:59:36

Wear earplugs!

louwn Sat 19-Jul-14 13:03:28

YANBU I don't understand how people can concentrate doing this, and it is incredibly antisocial.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 13:06:12

Iouwn me neither. It's an office to do office work. I could understand it if you were say stacking goods in a warehouse or something like gardening.

They are being unreasonable if you can hear the music. Must be rubbish headphones.

However, I work in an open plan office and listening to music is the only thing that keeps me on track with complicated work. Others' conversations are incredibly distracting to me. No issue with not hearing the phone, as it's linked to the computer so calls flash up on my screen.

PrincessOfChina Sat 19-Jul-14 13:07:07

The only time anyone in my office gets any peace is if they put on headphones. We're a pretty social bunch anyway, and the office is very open plan and designed for people to have meetings pretty much all over.

Seriouslyffs Sat 19-Jul-14 13:09:53

There should be a reasonable usage policy- no leakage and only in times when the wearer really needs to concentrate. It's incredibly selfish of the music listeners if you have to dance around to get their attention and take their share of phone answering.

ClashCityRocker Sat 19-Jul-14 13:13:52

I concentrate so much better in our open plan office with headphones in.

I can still hear my phone and check that my colleagues can't hear my music (although most of them have headphones in too).

I don't wear them every minute of the working day but probably for the bulk of it.

SwedishEdith Sat 19-Jul-14 13:17:40

I don't understand the "How can they be working if they are listening to music?" comments. So staff in open plan offices are incredibly intrusive and loud. The only way lots of people can actually get any work done is to block out these people. I keep meaning to get headphones for just these reason

RandallFloyd Sat 19-Jul-14 13:19:36

Being able to listen to music of my own choice is a massive plus point to my job.
I love it, and so do most of us.
If you can hear their music there's absolutely nothing wrong with politely telling them that. I certainly wouldn't have a problem with it, I'd much rather know if I was annoying someone.

It's not for everyone I'm sure but it's nice to have the option.

Flipflops7 Sat 19-Jul-14 13:19:49

I like using them for particularly difficult work. They also suppress the surrounding conversations which are more distracting than music.

Happy36 Sat 19-Jul-14 13:27:02

You are being entirely reasonable. It's very rude to wear headphones in the office!

In my previous office we hired a student temp sometimes to do data entry or scanning and he worked alone in a kind of cupboard so we let him (in fact, told him!) to listen to music although it was via speakers as our fire officer didn't like the idea of headphones.

But if you work in a space with others headphones are not acceptable.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 13:27:29

I work in an open plan office. No one wears headphones to listen to music. A few members of staff wear headphones to take phone calls, most don't.

If anyone finds the background noise so distracting they can't concentrate there are headphones which will block that. Headphones piping in your choice of music is you listening to your music on the time I'm paying you to do a job.

I've been an employee in this office and am now one of the employers. In both capacities this is the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a very long time.

RandallFloyd Sat 19-Jul-14 13:34:18

God yes, how dare anyone listen to music whilst also doing their job.
Best get all shops, bars, restaurants, garages, soft plays etc to get that rubbish turned off ASAP.

I find it very bizarre that anyone who has worked in an office of any kind has never heard of any others that have the radio on or let people wear headphones.

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.

PetulaGordino Sat 19-Jul-14 14:26:22

i have headphones in from time to time, if i need to drown out the background noise of people on phones etc. in my work it would never be a problem, though i'm sure there are other types of work where it's not appropriate. they put music on in operating theatres as it can help some surgeons' concentration

LewisNaiceHamilton Sat 19-Jul-14 14:28:13

branston presumably the volume in your classroom is a nice, muted one. Nobody is talking on the phone, or having a meeting, or gassing around the water cooler whilst other people are trying to concentrate. It's a different environment - I wouldn't expect your students to need to block out the background noise (sensory issues excepted).

I don't use headphones while I work as I dont like listening to music through headphones. But when I work from home I always have tje radio on. When Im concentrating it's backgeound noise, a bit like office chatter.

Sicaq Sat 19-Jul-14 14:28:25

Also, while I'm ranting, persistent background noise can be really tough on some people with dyslexia, dyspraxia or a range of autistic spectrum disorders. Makes it a lot harder to do your job.

PetulaGordino Sat 19-Jul-14 14:28:43

phaedra if everyone else can take on board that it's not appropriate in your industry, why can you not take on board that it is acceptable in other industries/offices?

PetulaGordino Sat 19-Jul-14 14:29:37

i do agree though that anyone who is listening to music through headphones shouldn't have it at such a level that other people can hear it

Jeeps some people can be really intolerant. You have no idea why your colleagues might prefer to listen to music - I agree that you shouldn't be able to hear it but just the wearing of headphones certainly doesn't make me or anyone obnoxious..

Cruikshank Sat 19-Jul-14 14:35:53

Jewels, if I were you I would maybe have a word with HR - you shouldn't be able to hear other people's headphones and if I could then I would find it really distracting - it irritates me on trains and buses, and I'm not generally on them for seven hours at a time. Or maybe try taking your own headphones in and see if it helps you block out the noise of theirs? Join The Dark Side where people ROB from their employer by listening to music/going to the loo/breathing during the time they are supposed to be working.

Cruikshank Sat 19-Jul-14 14:36:49

DoJo grin

LustyBusty Sat 19-Jul-14 14:38:15

I have been known on more than one occasion to put my headphones in to attempt to drown out the sound of my manager and the sales manager having a sword fight with rulers. I was concentrating so hard on my work (with the help of the headphones) that I didn't notice them stop. I then got a bollocking for not being able to hear my manager calling my name across the office. I now dont wear them, but because the office is so noisy (sword fights, crude jokes, conversations that are yelled across 10ft rather than someone being arsed to get up) I am so successful at drowning out the "ambient" noise I now can't hear my boss calling my name even when I don't have headphones in.

LewisNaiceHamilton Sat 19-Jul-14 14:40:27

OK then Phaedra, then I imagine your office is pretty quiet. There are around 60 people in mine, which is one of 15 in the building. Phones ring, people talk too loudly on the phone, they have meetings, they talk to each other face-to-face. All 60 of them at once it seems at times grin

Some of the 15 offices are a lot quieter, thanks to the nature of their work. Mine is lively, due to the nature of ours. There are no special offices for senior management, so they slum it with the rest of us - and use headphones sometimes, too!

Deverethemuzzler Sat 19-Jul-14 14:41:25

I listen to Radio 4 and 4 xtra when at work. We have a massive open plan office. I can't concentrate if I am not plugged in.

It would drive me insane listening to other people's tinny music though. I would have to leave.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 14:42:50

Join The Dark Side where people ROB from their employer by listening to music/going to the loo/breathing during the time they are supposed to be working

Exaggeration does your argument no favours.

DoJo Sat 19-Jul-14 14:45:03

Failing to address any of the questions people have asked you does your argument no favours either.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 14:46:29

Lewis I work in an open plan office. No one seems to have a difficulty blanking out the ambient background noise. It is not "routine process driven work" , very far from it.

Kerberos Sat 19-Jul-14 14:47:04

I'm in IT. It's fairly normal in our office to put headphones in. Generally not all the time but it can be useful to cut out distractions and allow you to get on with a specific task that needs concentration. I sit next to HR. I also always check to make sure the music isn't too loud.

If it's too loud tell them to turn it down. I would and do, and I would be very apologetic if I had to be asked.

wonkylegs Sat 19-Jul-14 14:59:35

I used to work in an open plan studio & listened to music on headphones when I wanted to concentrate. I still answered my phone(light flickered when it was ringing) but it meant nobody chatted or asked a million questions.
I now have my own studio & listen on a stereo.... I am more productive and focused with music than without - believe me I've tried both.
My DH listens to music whilst he does procedures on people's hearts so I hope it isn't that bad for concentration & focus!

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 15:04:07

DoJo I did answer questions. Most of the points addressed at me weren't questions however.

The comments about breathing etc are ridiculous hyperbole. Not allowing office staff the choice of listening to music on headphones when "they are supposed to be at work" is not the same.

There is a big clue there ; you are at work, it's not an optional leisure activity.

LewisNaiceHamilton Sat 19-Jul-14 15:07:48

How many people are there in your office? And how loud is it?

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 15:10:01

Large building, 6 floors, around 50/60 people on each floor. No music in background, no-one listening to private music on headphones.

DoJo Sat 19-Jul-14 15:10:43

I asked several questions that you didn't answer:

Why are you sceptical that listening to headphones aids some people's concentration?

Why do you not believe that it is common in some industries/working environments?

How can you assume that your experience is the only valid one (admittedly this was not posed directly, but I am consolidating a lot of points into one which I think covers the gist of them)?

You just seem remarkably certain that wearing headphones is not and can not be a good thing and I am curious as to why that might be.

Inselaffe Sat 19-Jul-14 15:18:36

OP - YANBU if it's so loud you can hear it. We're allowed to listen to music to drown out the rest of the office (we have a large team near us who take calls from customers and they are a right PITA - singing to each other, shouting etc.). I also use it as a sign for people not to randomly start chatting to me when I have a lot of work on as it's difficult to book a meeting room for personal work.

It's a good idea to get HR to send out guidelines - we will be doing the same thing in our team as we have noticed people definitely taking the piss in terms of constant use, whereas IMO headphones are the exception rather than the rule, when you genuinely can't work in the office environment.

MyFairyKing Sat 19-Jul-14 15:27:39

I work in social services; my 3 jobs so far have all been in massive open plan offices. I often wear earphones to block out the background noise when I have to focus. Believe it or not, the dulcet tones of the Spice Girls (joke!) impede my concentration less than the office noise. I purposely invested in some decent ones to ensure I don't bother anyone else.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 15:40:59

Right DOJO.

As I said before I've worked in offices all my working life in one sector. Husband and several close friends in same sector. Workers in that sector apart from possibly the very routine , process driven background sections with no client ir colleague interface, such as the mail room, requiring little concentration might have the radio on. No one else listens to music, either in the background or on headphones.

Music is not just an an ambient background noise to block other noise. Music can and does inspire sadness, rage, enthusiasm and all sorts of emotions. That is what the best of it is intended to do, whether it's a well-crafted 3 minute pop song or The Ring Cycle.

I love music, all sorts of music, I listen to music a lot and attend lots of concerts. When I listen to music I concentrate on the music. When I am at work I concentrate on my work. I do "routine process driven" things like house work listening to music as that requires no thought whatsoever.

I'll turn your questions back- prove to me you are concentrating on your work and not the music.

And as music is something which is a major part of my life I doubt you will convince me. I actually feel a bit sorry that music for some of you is apparently just background noise.

mrscog Sat 19-Jul-14 15:49:07

Yanbu about the tsk tsk tsk but overall yabu. I'm a manager and actively encourage my team to listen to music to prevent distractions from other noise (which there is a lot of) so long as a) they can still hear their phone and answer it and b) be aware of people who've come to see them.

Ninjabread Sat 19-Jul-14 15:50:22

So grateful Phaedra isn't my boss.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 16:04:52

Ninja you would not last very long with many employers if you think you have the right to sit at your desk listening to music.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 16:15:22

Ninja for all of my working life until the last 12 months I've been an employee. It would never have occurred to me to use the time my employer was paying me to work to listen to music.

Ninjabread Sat 19-Jul-14 16:23:44

But I'm not just sitting at my desk listening to my music. I'm writing emails and reports, doing research, monitoring accounts, updating client records.
I find it hard to concentrate in my open plan office. Often colleagues have meetings in earshot about things that don't concern me. With my Headphones in I can still hear my phone and my colleagues when they talk to me.
In fact if colleagues have headphones in, it's considered shorthand for 'I'm trying to concentrate, don't disturb me with social chit-chat.'though I suspect social chit-chat is verboten in your office too.

LustyBusty Sat 19-Jul-14 16:24:05

But Phaedra I think very few people are "listening to music" I know I'm not... "Listening to music" implies focussing your attention on it, and I actually only listen to things I know well, that can drown out the chaos around me-i find it significantly easier to ignore eg meatloaf, than the graphic detail of my colleague's date or the two most senior people in the department sword fighting....

SweetsForMySweet Sat 19-Jul-14 16:38:47

I worked in a similar envoirnment and there was only one man who wore headphones and everyone else seem to think he was odd for doing it [hmmm]. I wish I could have worn headphones but the boss was strict that we were not aloud to do so and the only reason that one man was, was because he had been there since day one and had a senior position. Have you got instant messaging, could you send them a quick message and wait for a reply?

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 19-Jul-14 16:45:32

'though I suspect social chit-chat is verboten in your office too

Hyperbole is not adding to the credibility of your argument.

I'm really surprised at so many of you treating music as little more than something to drown out irritating background noise.

mrscog Sat 19-Jul-14 16:48:38

Ffs Phadrel are you the music police or something? It's perfectly possible for music to have more than one use you know. Also my team are way more productive when using music as a blocker as they chat to each other less, so it's a winner all around IMO - they get more done and they're happy they can do so with a background noise which suits their tastes and needs.

DoJo Sat 19-Jul-14 16:52:13

Phaedra - I have never disputed that your experience is as you have described, just that because your experience is as you have described that nobody else's experiences are valid. The fact that you, your husband and many of your friends work in the same sector has coloured your views of the whole of the working world is clear, and I am not disputing that either.

In terms of 'proof' as you request, as I have already stated, I usually listen to Radio 4 when I am working, and the proof that it aids my concentration is that I choose to do this even though I work for myself. There is no benefit to me to 'skive off' or drag out tasks which I am being paid for or to put barriers between myself and optimal efficiency, so I work in the environment that suits me best.

Even though I don't usually listen to music whilst I work, when I do it is usually a piece chosen to inspire me - my role is creative, and being inspired by others' creativity is a long-established tradition, one which most (if not all) of the composers and songwriters you admire so much will be a part of. Music may be a big part of your life, but it is actually a part of my job, so please don't presume to tell my how important it must be to me or anyone else. Experiencing music in different ways doesn't invalidate any one person's enjoyment of it and the fact that you think you or anyone else can listen to music in the 'right' way surprises me.

As for your assertion that music is not just a noise to block other noise - that may be true for you, but for some people music can perform that role. Your sweeping generalisations based purely on your own experiences lead me to believe that you will never accept another's viewpoint as being valid, regardless of how many people confirm that they don't share your opinion. Which is fine - you are entitled to believe that your way is the best, or even the only way to do things 'properly', and given that this seems to be the case, I don't think I have any more to add to our discussion.

Deverethemuzzler Sat 19-Jul-14 16:54:50

For goodness sake!
I am 47 and have worked in a variety of office and non office based jobs.

I have listened to my radio in all of them.

It has never been an issue. It takes me seconds to remove my earphones to answer a phone or a colleague's enquiry. It helps me concentrate and makes me more productive.

I currently work in the community but my admin is office based. I get in, plug in and get on with the paperwork and sorting out my diary.

I am not robbing my employer in anyway.

And listening to music does not overpower me to the extent I answer the phone in a rage/tears/euphoric/morose depending on who has just been on.

what a bizarre notion.

mrscog Sat 19-Jul-14 16:55:56

Gives DoJo a hearty round of applause!

Phaedra my concentration is substantially better with music. I physically cannot ignore background office noise -it's enormously distractingand makes me jumpy and anxious. Nice soft music dulls all of that, and means I only have one continuous background noise rather than dozens of competing ones.

logisticalNightmare Sat 19-Jul-14 17:04:07

Just had to de-lurk and NC to say...I work in a big head office for a major financial services company. I am a programme manager so complex work but not customer facing. It is completely normal in my world for people to wear earphones sometimes. It is the accepted code "for do not disturb". I spent a lot of time on my phone headset (One eared with microphone like a call centre one) on conference calls, going to meetings, talking to colleagues but when I need quiet time the earphones go in.

In fact, I had them in a lot yesterday as I was doing half year performance review stuff.

Like all things, there is a time and a place. Common sense, respect and personal preference. I was a bit shocked to see all the high emotion on this thread

RandallFloyd Sat 19-Jul-14 17:06:07

<stands for DoJo>

LogisticalNightmare Sat 19-Jul-14 17:07:09

I see other sensible people DoJo deVere have appeared to say similar things smile

McFox Sat 19-Jul-14 17:14:19

I spend most of my working day writing and listening to music helps me concentrate because it drowns out all the yapping. My team do the same as they are doing creative work, so we all have headphones in and wave when we need to talk. It works fine.

rubybleu Sat 19-Jul-14 17:43:30

Earbuds/headphones are the norm in professional open-plan environments when you need to do something that involves concentration.

I work in the front office of an investment management firm and there would be mutiny if people tried to restrict use of earbuds. Everyone from the COO downwards will have headphones/earbuds on at various points during the day.

I never, ever listen to music for pleasure - it would never occur to me to stick the TV or radio on for background noise at home. I love silence. My sole reason for using isolating noise buds plus jazz or classical on YouTube is to be able to concentrate.

There's quite a lot of research around now that the open plan work environment is often quite counterproductive to productivity. They've realised that - shock horror - working involves concentrating and being interrupted constantly doesn't help that at all.

PetulaGordino Sat 19-Jul-14 17:52:55

I can't believe this is so controversial. The whole thing about "listening to music on employer's time" is like that joke about the guy who gets his hair cut on company time

Sicaq Sat 19-Jul-14 17:57:04

There are some ten hour white noise tracks on YouTube. I sometimes use them to drown out the sound of co-workers's blaring music. Seems to help.

Probably is sector-dependent; I'm in scientific publishing and my office fact checks academic papers, Amazes me that some colleagues think music helps with that; fair enough but I wish they'd wear feckin' headphones cos blaring rap music doesn't help me angry

I use them to listen to Radio 4 podcasts while I work, because my open plan office is so deathly quiet that I would fall asleep otherwise (I do a lot of boring document editing). I used to be fine in a busy, bustling office with people coming and going all the time, but am struggling with the lack of stimulation in this one. I am very careful to keep the volume low and make sure I can hear the doorbell (we get deliveries all day long).

Music at work would drive me potty though, if I could hear other people's music I wouldn't be able to work at all. I virtually never listen to it at home. Luckily I have never worked anywhere that has it on routinely in the background. My DH is the opposite, he would have it on all the time, everywhere.

Mrsrochesterscat Sat 19-Jul-14 18:12:24

Thankfully, I am treated like an adult at work.

I work in an open plan office with about 200 others. It's fairly quiet, people have whispered conversations and meetings are held elsewhere. Butt this has it's downfalls - for instance, I can hear telephone conversations from the other end of the office.

I, as a competent adult, know that I work better to music, as such I usually have headphones in.

GreeboOgg Sat 19-Jul-14 19:14:13

My DH listens to music whilst he does procedures on people's hearts so I hope it isn't that bad for concentration & focus!

Effing surgeons living it large in theatre when my taxes are paying their wages! Tell your DH to save the raves for his own time! angry

[Daily Mail Outraged Face]

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

Greebo - since the last 2 procedures he did were emergencies tacked on to the end of an already exhaustingly long day, they were technically in his own time. I know his patients were grateful that he bothered to stay & change their lives and I'm pretty sure they didn't give a monkeys if music was playing during the procedure or not.
Can a Disney theme tunes cd count as a rave? hmm

MyFairyKing Sat 19-Jul-14 19:28:45

wonky Think Greebo was being sarcastic!

GreeboOgg Sat 19-Jul-14 19:33:14

Sorry Wonky I thought my brilliant Daily Mail face made my sarcasm clear sad I was just joking, I was under the impression many surgeons play music as it does, in fact, help concentration.

Deverethemuzzler Sat 19-Jul-14 19:55:19

It was clear you were joking greebo

GnomeDePlume Sat 19-Jul-14 20:14:53

I am wondering whether Phaedra is my boss. My boss believes that her way of listening to music is the right way and that it isnt possible to concentrate on work as she cant concentrate if she is listening to music.

Sometimes I want to shout - 'yours isnt the only experience!' but I dont because I am polite.

OneLittleToddleTerror Sat 19-Jul-14 20:28:07

Is phaedra for real? Listening to music on headphones is the norm in all the offices I worked in. I am 39 and they are all professional jobs with graduates. (One is postdoc so half the staff have PhDs). I listen to it less than most but it is an expected 'right' in an office. I would never have thought it needs approval! So OP join them them and you won't here their music nor would would you be disturbed by teleconferences. And you get someone's attention via IM. It is considered rude to just go and disturb someone at their desk. They should be allowed to answer you when they have a moment. Instead of whenever you want.

MyFairyKing Sat 19-Jul-14 20:31:25

There are actually some studies that prove certain types of music can aid concentration. Us humans are complex creatures, our various levels of cognition enable us to listen and focus on important tasks.

OneLittleToddleTerror Sat 19-Jul-14 20:33:52

rubybleu I use the same type of music to concentrate. Jazz and classical, no speech. I prefer silence but there is none to be found in an open plan office. If I work from home, I don't have music. I use spotify and they have very good play lists for 'focus' music.

I'm sure some here would find it shocking all the places I work for have unlimited free internet access too. You can check Facebook, eBay etc as long as you are reasonable.

We have unlimited free internet access too, if it's legal you can look at it.

SignYourName Sat 19-Jul-14 20:46:57

I wish my boss would wear headphones. She plays awful bland pseudo jazz music on her iphone in her office, but my desk is right outside her office and she keeps her door open so I can hear her squawky screechy saxophone music of choice, which is not to my taste, most of the fecking day. I've mentioned it, as politely as I could, but I think she thought I was joking as she has made no attempt to turn it down or play it less frequently.

nooka Sat 19-Jul-14 20:53:35

I can't personally work to music, and hearing other peoples music faintly playing would drive me around the bend, but I know lots of people find it helps them to concentrate. I like a working hubbub background best so I actually like open plan. It seems incredibly arrogant to claim what works for other people.

ClashCityRocker Sat 19-Jul-14 21:03:53

Nooka, exactly. Some people find music helps them concentrate (I know I do, right back from being at school and doing my homework with headphones in). For others, it's a distraction.

As long as people are doing it considerately so other colleagues aren't subjected to their music, I don't see what the problem is.

Pilgit Sat 19-Jul-14 21:49:00

We use them in our office to indicate we don't want to be disturbed. If we're plugged in - we're concentrating or have a deadline so come back later. So long as we're not plugged in all day every day it's fine. No one has their music up so loud anyone else can hear it though - that is just irritating and anti social!

Iggly Sat 19-Jul-14 21:52:37

Mmmm tough one. It makes me realise actually how stressful open plan can be if you don't have anywhere to hide and concentrate. I end up having to take work home.

LewisNaiceHamilton Sat 19-Jul-14 21:59:29

Likewise, Pil.

Phaedra, if everyone in your office is working quietly and alone, then the general atmosphere will be conducive to intense, individually-focused outputs.

In my office, there's a lot of collaborative, face-to-face working which inevitably raises the volume. And even when it's quiet, it only takes one person to be engaged in a phone call for the gentle hubbub to become intrusive.

MamaPain Sat 19-Jul-14 22:14:07

Phaedra what sector do you work in? Surely thats relevant as it keeps being said in 'your' sector.

I have been really interested in this thread, as an employer. Prior to having my company I've worked in very man offices and as far as I remember having music playing has always been the norm.

We have always had the radio on, although not loudly, and I actively encourage the use of earphones. The only people who wouldn't use these are those in client management/sales because they are constantly on the phone.

We have a spotify playlist that all can contribute to and then on a friday we play from that. Nowadays I'm not in the office much but I think music adds to morale.

MeadowHeartshimmertheFairy Sat 19-Jul-14 22:50:07

I work in construction (not on site) and this has never been allowed. Have worked for some smaller contractors and some of the Top 10 contractors and the only people I've seen use headphones in the office have been graduate trainees who are told pretty swiftly that it's frowned upon by management and to turn them off.

Just my experience.

slightlyglitterstained Sat 19-Jul-14 22:55:47

Also curious about Phaedra's sector.

I actually almost never listen to music when working, as I don't like the feel of headphones/earbuds (don't enjoy sound coming from that close to my ears, it feels tiring after a while).

But in my sector of IT I honestly think you'd have riots in the offices I've worked in if you tried to ban listening to music at work. Software development requires both high levels of collaboration and also periods of intense concentration - tricky to manage both in open plan unless you have a way for people to tune out the discussions around them. Plus, putting headphones on to signal "need to concentrate, please don't interrupt" is so commonly understood that I've actually got headphones on my desk that I put on unplugged sometimes!

GnomeDePlume Sat 19-Jul-14 22:59:55

Meadow is this a kind of 'one size suits all policy'? Headphones not allowed on site so not allowed in the office?

I like your idea MamaPain. I think that sharing music can be a good way of helping a team to bond. I hade been thinking that if I could ever get to persuade my boss to leave that I would suggest having Radio Team Member XX on a Friday but I think your idea is better.

MaidOfStars Sat 19-Jul-14 23:09:33

In my office, headphones in means 'Don't interrupt me, for any reason whatsoever'. I wear headphones a lot, even if not listening to music. I don't share with many, but a glass door seems to invite others to stop by and chat.

In my lab, the radio is always on. Whether it is on Radio One or XFM is down to who gets there first.

atticusclaw Sat 19-Jul-14 23:26:32

I'm guessing from what Phaedra has said about being an employee and now a boss that she is a partner in law firm or accountancy firm.

I would agree that it is frowned upon in that sort of environment, in fact the one person who did this at my last firm was regarded as very antisocial.

Having said that I now work from home and have the tv or radio in in the background constantly and am quite able to concentrate.

MeadowHeartshimmertheFairy Sat 19-Jul-14 23:29:29

gnome I'm not sure to be honest. Obv no music allowed on site for health and safety reasons as well as Considerate Constructors Scheme but in the office it's just viewed as shockingly unprofessional (re-emphasise this is just my experience). Like having your feet up on the desk I suppose. Wouldn't necessarily impact productivity if you were reading a document, for example, but would definitely look a bit hmm to senior management.

SwedishEdith Sat 19-Jul-14 23:37:53

Yes I thought it must be accountancy or law or even air traffic control (but that wouldn't fit) Either way, pretty conservative sectors - hence the "incredulous" husband

atticusclaw Sat 19-Jul-14 23:41:14

Conservative but also in law a junior lawyer would be expected to be listening to what is going on so that they can learn.

MamaPain Sat 19-Jul-14 23:42:55

But my DH works in a relatively senior position in the legal department but in the financial sector, typical city firm. I know when he is really trying to focus he puts earphones in.

Maybe it isn't done by the more junior staff, and I know they don't have the radio on but I think occasional use of earphones is considered acceptable.

MamaPain Sat 19-Jul-14 23:44:47

When I see him (if I remember) I'll ask what the policy is. Like any elf-respecting large 'serious' company they have a policy for everything so I'm sure there will be one for this.

PetulaGordino Sat 19-Jul-14 23:47:03

they have a policy on respect for elves? political correctness gorn maaaaad!

GnomeDePlume Sat 19-Jul-14 23:50:49

Meadow interesting. My boss views it as unprofessional. I wonder if it is a work generational thing. My boss is only 3 years older than me but started work at 16 where I started at 22 so putting her a generation older than me in work terms IYSWIM. I'm 48, she is 51.

I think it is one of those things which is lead from the top. Person at the top says 'unprofessional' and everyone else has to agree or challenge the concept of professionalism.

MamaPain Sat 19-Jul-14 23:51:46

Yes they take the little people very seriously. The elves get extremely pissy when disrespected, policies are a must, don't want to end up on the naughty list.

brdgrl Sat 19-Jul-14 23:52:32

YANBU - if you can hear it.

forago Sat 19-Jul-14 23:57:43

I challenge anyone to do AML compliance training without putting headphones on. Not. physically. possible.

EBearhug Sun 20-Jul-14 00:01:51

Some of my colleagues wear headphones. I wear them when listening to replays of meetings I couldn't go to, but I tend not to wear them just to listen to music. I can actually block out other things when I really need to concentrate, without using headphones, and there's been more than one occasion when my manager has been stood at my desk waiting to talk to me, and I simply haven't noticed, as I've been engrossed in whatever techy issue I was looking at. Other people need help to cut out distractions. We're all different.

The people I want to kill are those who take part in phone calls at top volume. Or take part in conf calls on speaker phone. Or have meeting in the meeting room near my desk without closing the door (I have been known to get up and close the door when they're too loud.) Or those who leave their mobile phones on their desk, so they ring and don't get answered. They are mobile phones, so you can take them with you, or just put them on silent. But I've not heard anyone else's headphone noise. I would comment if I did. I complained to colleague who taps his pen up and down on the desk when he's thinking. It just takes a Look now. grin

TinklyLittleLaugh Sun 20-Jul-14 00:11:15

Like Phaedra, I am genuinely amazed that anyone can do an even slightly mentally demanding job while listening to music. Music is so....distracting; (in a good way) no way can I relegate it to background noise if I'm trying to think about something, the most I could manage is having it on while cooking.

I suspect it is a generational thing though; my DCs are happily plugged in while doing homework and even studying. I think it is about needing some level of noise in the background, personally I prefer quiet.

susiey Sun 20-Jul-14 00:21:31

We have both music on in our open plan office and if I need to concentrate use headphones for my own music.not loud enough for other people to hear though.
It's kind of a do not disturb signal In our office.
I work in creative industry I don't know if that makes a difference

GnomeDePlume Sun 20-Jul-14 00:25:07

I guess the question is Tinkly, if you were their office manager, would you tell your DCs that they couldnt listen to music because you couldnt concentrate?

nooka Sun 20-Jul-14 02:00:36

Tinkly my dh is almost exactly the same age as I am and listens to music to program (so high concentration work) as do most of his colleagues (who in my last job were all around the same sort of age - mid to late 40s). He also listens to music for pleasure, although mostly quite different music.

It may be a generational thing, but it's not a new thing.

PenelopeLane Sun 20-Jul-14 02:14:54

I always listen to music at work, and have a job that requires a lot of writing. I never listen to music with words though, and tend to listen to music passively rather than actively. It helps me concentrate, and also provides a bit of a "lock down" for myself - ie I'll tell myself I will work on a report for a full 60 min playlist before I have a break.

I worked in one place though where it was frowned upon, my boss felt the same as Pheadra. It was a terrible work environment as well, maybe he thought that his stance on headphones made sense, but for me, I was much less productive when forced to listen to a workmate talk for ages about how many calories were in each thing she ate rather than escaping into my own work bubble.

OneLittleToddleTerror Sun 20-Jul-14 03:39:01

tinky I'm in software development. It is a mentally demanding job I would think. Like slightlystainedglutter said there would be riots if no music is allowed. It is the norm as far as I know. We don't have office radio but almost everyone is plugged in.

Communications is done mostly via IM. Like I said before it's not considered the done thing to just appear at someone's desk. Unless you are actually friends, going for for a cuppa or lunch.

I guess we are much less conservative than law or accounting?

OddFodd Sun 20-Jul-14 04:51:03

I worked in a massive global professional services firm for years at a fairly senior level. I always wire headphones when I needed to concentrate. I would have been really annoyed if one of the partners had implied I was shirking!

ConstableOdo Sun 20-Jul-14 05:02:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bluegrass Sun 20-Jul-14 06:27:29

I don't but a lot of lawyers I work with listen to music while they are drafting, even more so when they want to concentrate. So that's lawyers and surgeons doing it. Am wondering what on earth Phaedra does for a living now!

Perhaps she's a piano tuner.

GnomeDePlume Sun 20-Jul-14 09:34:02

I was thinking about the 'looking professional' thing. The thing which sticks out for me is looking professional. I think that the people who worry about that tend to have a very narrow view of what looks professional. How often are these the people who prefer staff to be in formal office clothes no matter what?

Bushbb Sun 20-Jul-14 09:47:55

I use music in the office - i use headphones and always make sure others can not hear the music.
we have IM for communication - I think YANBU if you can hear the music - but YABU for requesting people shouldn't do it at all - everyone works in different ways

i work in IT - and its pretty unusual to see people without headphones

Noneedtoworryatall Sun 20-Jul-14 10:12:47

Personally I think it's ridiculous that headphones are allowed in offices as we are being paid to work. End of.

However, I can appreciate that it drowns out noise but I can't see how it would help you concentrate.

In my job I would never get away with it. It would look unprofessional.

backbystealth Sun 20-Jul-14 10:13:44

I'm Managing Director of a creative agency of about 50 people.

No-one has headphones on!

It's not about people not being able to concentrate on their work while listening to music that I'd mind, it's that it's hardly conducive to conversation, ideas, social interaction, errr hearing and listening. We have radios on softly in the background. And a telly actually. It's an informal office.

But I think headphones would be detrimental to our work. Luckily the issue has never arisen so it's not had to be banned or anything.

That's kind of how I feel about headphones too, when I worked in a busy bustling office I never wore them as you would have felt strangely isolated and not known what was going on, constant interaction was definitely part and parcel of the job. I only use them now because I am on my own most of the time and would die of boredom otherwise (I'm in earshot but not sightline of others and can't always tell if anyone is around the corner, so can't use speakers).

foreverforaging Sun 20-Jul-14 10:26:48

I think the people standing next to the photocopier yapping for the umpteenth time are more of a liability than the person sitting at their desk with headphones in (to drown them out) doing work.

It is very old fashioned to think this is unacceptable. How old are you?

Agree that you shouldn't be able to hear the tsk tsk tsk noise though.

Verystickypaws Sun 20-Jul-14 10:29:34

I put head phones on and listen to music and pod casts when I'm doing tasks like preparing and uploading data to a system. It helps me concentrate and focus on what I'm doing. Listening to people on the phone, or over hearing chatter puts me off.

PenelopeLane Sun 20-Jul-14 10:30:14

Given how so many studies and the like have clearly demonstrated how people have different learning styles, I don't see why some people are so closed minded when it comes to the idea that others may be able to use different tools to concentrate and work. Surely it boils down to outputs - and if I am able to meet my outputs better with the use of music, that is all that matters? For me, music helps me escape into a sort of bubble inhabited only by me and my work, so I'm not distracted.

Although to be fair to other posters, the only type of conversations I am likely to hear around me are conversations that having nothing to do with our work, so I'm not missing out at all by not being part of the conversations.

backbystealth Sun 20-Jul-14 10:32:43

It's not just about people not being able to concentrate on work with headphones on!

It's about interaction, conversations, listening, hearing the phone - my team's work is born out of conversing/ideas.

Not the same in all offices or industries, but certainly in mine.

wonkylegs Sun 20-Jul-14 10:35:27

Sorry Greebo - you never know on here. I've posted about my DHs job before and had non sarcastic responses along similar lines, hence my defensiveness.

PenelopeLane Sun 20-Jul-14 10:36:21

I guess it depends on the industry then - last time I put on headphones on it was because I had a deadline to meet and wanted to drown out a long and lengthy conversation between two workmates on how to survive the zombie apocalypse grin

I can understand that there will be some industries where that constant collaboration is important but I don't think it's the case for everyone who has said headphones are awful, unacceptable, disgraceful, rude, whatever. There are people for whom the constant varied noises on an open plan floor are actually really detrimental. Just because you are not one of them doesn't make it untrue.

However this has been useful as I'm about to go through an occupational health assessment at work and I'm now thinking that this should actually be going on my reasonable adjustments.

PetulaGordino Sun 20-Jul-14 11:05:21

It's the idea that tins unprofessional too. In some jobs/offices/industries maybe, but not all. Those who are using headphones are not doing less important work than those who don't, and vice versa

slightlyglitterstained Sun 20-Jul-14 13:23:46

A tip for interrupting someone with headphones on: knock on their desk. You feel less of a prat than waving at them or trying to repeat their name & catch their eye.

I learnt it in an environment where interrupting colleagues was not really the done thing, but still had to be done sometimes.

And agree with Petula, it's different industries, different practices. Professionalism has to be sensitive to context.

GnomeDePlume Sun 20-Jul-14 13:32:54

My manager gets very worked up about things looking professional rather than being professional. For me being professional is delivering work on time, in full and to the best of my ability. Headphones or not are irrelevant.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Sun 20-Jul-14 13:47:44

It completely depends on circumstances.

in a noisy office, I can see how headphones would help, but the research shows that some types of music aids concentration for some tasks.

its not all music helps concentration for all tasks.

also i also don't like the way headphones inhibit and discourage communication. i work in a technical field where lots of people are not good communicators and have a tendency to get connected to the computer. as an employer i am very aware we need to focus on being a team not disconnected individuals.

slightlyglitterstained Sun 20-Jul-14 16:06:02

Agreed that it can discourage communication, which is really not a good thing. I think that IMs can help that though, plus (in my area) encouraging people to pair on work, and being very clear that nobody is uninterruptible, because that harms the team's progress for the sake of one individual (if someone is always interrupted because they're the only person who knows X, well it's damn well time they passed that knowledge on and we'll support them to do so). It's something I think is down to management & teams themselves to find a good balance on.

hollycomputer Sun 20-Jul-14 16:10:43

I often listen to music on headphones in the office when I need to concentrate or the voice of the annoying woman near me grates too much. My headphones are noise cancelling so no-one else can hear, plus I keep it at a level that if someone spoke to me, I'd be able to hear.

GnomeDePlume Sun 20-Jul-14 16:12:08

I think is down to management & teams themselves to find a good balance on

I agree. At some point I am going to have to put my big girl pants on and explain to my boss that the reason I want to wear headphones is that she is the problem. Tutting and sighing at every noise louder than a whisper when she is trying to concentrate. Then twittering when she is just pretending to be busy.

Alternatively I could stab her with my biro and bury her body in the stationery cupboard.

stardusty5 Sun 20-Jul-14 16:18:54

I have recently started wearing headphones in the office as I work with a woman who commentates everything she is doing. "Ooh what's this email here..... Mmm right yep, no problem, now where's my diary, just pop that down there....." I like her a lot but it does my head in.

superbagpuss Sun 20-Jul-14 16:19:31

I'm generation y, just

I has music during coursework, exam revision for GCSE, a levels, degree and professional qualifications - when doing something long and manual it stops me going insane, getting bored and time wasting or getting distracted by other people

I only have one ear in, so if someone calls me I can hear

I get approx one phone call a month, but work in a busy open plan office

being able to listen to music while doing my job is one of the few things that keep me sane, but I make sure I'm not bothering anyone else around me

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Sun 20-Jul-14 16:20:19

also if the problem is noisy colleagues, the solution is ear plugs. I have a pair which are really comfortable and cost about £15.

Catmint Sun 20-Jul-14 16:21:40

My team listen to things on their headphones when they really need to focus in on a piece of work. It's fine with me as their performance is very good, and they don't wear them when the tasks aren't suited.

stardusty5 Sun 20-Jul-14 16:25:05

Youaremy - i think that earplugs may come across more as a PA statement against your noisy colleagues than headphones, especially in a smaller office.

With headphones, if asked you can always say that music helps you to concentrate rather than simply saying that you are irritated by them.

WeAllHaveWings Sun 20-Jul-14 16:32:35

Never liked them in an office environment as they are extremely antisocial and put people in the position of having to ask others to turn down.

I had someone sitting close to me and we would almost daily have the same conversation - can you turn it down please - how's that? - I can still hear it - how's that then? - nope still can hear it - really? - yes - how's that? - repeat......

Personally would preferably a radio but respect that others don't like music whie working.

Earphones have recently be banned in our workplace because someone was left sitting oblivious at their desk during a fire drill. I have heard other workpLaces have banned for h&s reasons too.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Sun 20-Jul-14 17:00:55

star - I think sticking anything in your ears at work is a fairly negative statement about your coworkers.

the whole 'it helps me concentrate argument' sounds very execusie!

RandallFloyd Sun 20-Jul-14 17:26:31

How loud would your headphones need to be to drown out a fire alarm?!
I'd say that was more of an issue with the fire alarm personally.

Or maybe an issue with that person somehow not noticing every single other person had left the building.
I'm presuming all the other people with earphones in managed to hear it, if s/he was the only one left at their desk.

Bit heavy-handed to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Andrewofgg Sun 20-Jul-14 17:52:47

In any case if the fire-alarm rings and somebody does not notice you pull the headphones or earplugs out and shake them.

GnomeDePlume Sun 20-Jul-14 17:58:08

The problem with the fire alarm is that the fire warden for the office didnt notice that someone was still sat at their desk.

Unless of course the management were using this as an excuse for banning headphones. Of course management wouldnt pull a stunt like that would they?

LoveBeingInTheSun Sun 20-Jul-14 18:01:49

I now work in an office where some do this, many because of the noise distraction of others. I have a couple of times and it does help. Even done it with the same song on repeat

IAmNotDarling Sun 20-Jul-14 20:15:41

I work in a very highly technical professional job where I have to concentrate in order to process what I'm doing. I sit surrounded by people who need to talk to do their jobs.

I'm in an open plan office with no means of escape. Low music helps me tune out of what is going on around me.

I'm happy, my work is happy and the people around me don't have to worry about disturbing me. Solution all around.

For those of you who think this is ridiculous - music had been shown to increase concentration levels.

If I work with any of you I'm the cheerful one in the corner - say my name and I'll take out my earphones and talk to you.

PenelopeLane Sun 20-Jul-14 21:44:29

I agree with Star that ear plugs are far worse than headphones!

OddFodd Sun 20-Jul-14 21:45:09

I forgot to mention this earlier - DS has sensory processing disorder and dyspraxia and one of the therapies his occupational therapist uses with him is wearing headphones while he concentrates - particularly on things he finds especially difficult. It's a very well-tested theory.

Many of us seek sensory input to help us concentrate - it's why we doodle, jiggle a leg or click a pen in meetings. That sensory input helps us concentrate on what we're listening to. Obviously, that doesn't apply to everyone but to dismiss it as having fun on the company's time is really quite an ignorant attitude I'm afraid.

OddFodd Sun 20-Jul-14 21:47:47

Obviously there is music playing through the headphones - Bach usually from what I can hear. It's very quiet though and he can hear you talk to him while it plays

WeAllHaveWings Sun 20-Jul-14 21:53:42

Fire alarm went off, everyone gets up and starts walking out, chatting as you do (when there's no visible flames) didn't notice this guy wasn't coming as he's around a pillar a bit from us and we weren't paying attention. Guy who had earphones in isnt part of our team, thought we were all getting up to go to a meeting. Fire alarm is a standard siren alarm.

Fire wardens did role call outside and it was then noticed someone was missing.

randall "Bit heavy-handed to throw the baby out with the bath water." hmm yeah - It would ONLY be one person who died if it had been a real fire.

PetulaGordino Sun 20-Jul-14 21:59:07

do your fire wardens not sweep after? ours check the loos etc and leave last.

GnomeDePlume Sun 20-Jul-14 22:21:06

Exactly Petula, our fire wardens are not expected to amble out, chatting, with everyone else.

I think that you should be reviewing your fire policy WeAllHaveWings. It is irrelevant that the person had on headphones. He could just as easily have been hard of hearing. Your office's poor approach to fire alarms is the problem.

OddFodd Sun 20-Jul-14 22:24:28

Really? Someone couldn't hear your fire alarm because their music was so loud? Really?

I agree with pp - you need to review your procedures.

PenelopeLane Mon 21-Jul-14 02:58:16

My money's on the guy who "didn't hear the alarm" just thinking it was a drill and not wanting to get up from his desk ...

OfaFrenchMind Mon 21-Jul-14 10:22:05

I work in an open space with lovely but sometimes loud people. Headphones are necessary! Plus The music can really get me going when working on models and templates. Give me a rhythm and a headspace to completely focus. If somebody wants to talk to me, they can touch my shoulder or send me a quick internal msn message.

Vintagejazz Mon 21-Jul-14 12:37:29

I have no problem with people listening to music with headphones. I used to work in a room where one of the girls just listened to music on her speakers. She got highly indignant when I asked for it to be switched off and very grudgingly agreed to turn it down. Mind you, she was also one of those people who listens to all her phone messages on speaker, has her mobile set to a very loud ringing tone and speaks very loudly herself on the phone.
I eventually got moved to a different room!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now