Although the types of distractions may differ, people who work from home and those who work from an office deal with them daily. From the neighbor’s barking dog in the at-home work environment to a chatty cubicle mate at the office, noise is distracting and can keep people from being productive. Employees in both types of working environments often resort to wearing headphones to help keep them on task.
How Wearing Headphones at Work Can Help
Headphones can help to conceal ambient noise and improve concentration. One downside to this is that people may concentrate on their work so intently that they miss phone calls or others trying to get their attention.
Listening to music through headphones while working can help some people feel more relaxed while it would cause a bigger distraction for others. People who can produce quality work and privately listen to music at the same time might want to consider downloading a playlist of songs that promotes relaxation and intense focus. Another option is to listen to ambient sounds like ocean waves or light rain.
Disadvantages to Wearing Headphones at Work
Seeing co-workers wear headphones can be off-putting to some people because it can unintentionally send the message they do not want anyone to interrupt them. When some members of a team wear headphones and others do not, the whole team can miss out on the benefits of spontaneous interactions and brainstorming.
Some people who wear headphones at work may become so involved in the music that they begin singing out loud or making hand gestures. These actions would obviously be a distraction to coworkers. There is also the risk of people wearing headphones playing their music loud enough that others nearby can still hear it. Listening to loud music continuously through headphones can also damage hearing.
Should Companies Allow Employees to Wear Headphones during the Workday?
Every business needs to balance the needs of employees, managers, clients, and customers when deciding whether to allow headphones or place any restrictions on their use. Safety is a major consideration, especially in manufacturing environments where employees need to pay close attention at all times. Since employers must offer hearing protection in loud environments, listening to music is not always the most practical choice anyway. Most employees understand this and want to keep themselves and their co-workers safe.
Deciding whether to permit headphones in an office environment can be a little more challenging. Some ground rules employers may want to implement include:
- Prohibiting the use of headphones when clients are visiting or employees are working on a group project.
- Setting a daily limit on how long employees can use headphones to protect their hearing and to ensure no decline in productivity takes place.
- Requiring employees to earn the privilege to wear headphones at work by consistently meeting quality and attendance standards.
Wireless Earbuds Can Be a Good Compromise
Wireless earbuds allow users to discreetly listen to music without disturbing others. They also come with several additional benefits that go beyond just listening to music. For example, users can adjust the settings to make sure they hear speech sounds clearly during meetings or while talking to customers on the phone. High-end earbuds designed for workplace use also block out distracting background noise to focus more fully on the task at hand.
One of the major issues with people wearing headphones at work is that it isolates them from co-workers. Earbuds with so-called “hear-through” functionality eliminate this problem with the ability to blend and enhance various sounds to ensure people always hear when someone is speaking to them. For those who commute to work, the earbuds help to block out loud traffic noise to concentrate fully on driving. That means arriving at work feeling more relaxed and less stressed just from the drive to get there.
What is Active Noise Cancellation?
Commonly abbreviated ANC, active noise cancellation is a feature of many new wireless earbuds that analyzes and processes sound from three strategically placed microphones. Thanks to advanced circuitry, the earbuds create cancellation waves inside of each ear to reduce distracting sounds. Users just need to tap on the earbuds to block all external noises.
Most wireless earbuds are extremely lightweight, especially when compared to bulky headphones. Some even deliver superb sound fidelity based on the environment, user settings, and the user’s unique hearing profile.
In the ongoing battle of allowing or banning headphones at work, wireless earbuds offer an excellent compromise. This is as true for people working from home as those who never left or have recently returned to the office. Both types of employees can deal with a constant bombardment of noise and both need access to technology that can help them stay focused.