Office environment - Do you avoid listening to music while at work?

Last updated by Brady Stroud [SSW] 17 days ago.See history

Should we be listening to music at work? I've had the debate with numerous people and decided that, generally, you should avoid it.

Regardless of whether it is AC/DC or DotNetRocks, music/podcasts should not be used in the workplace, especially using headphones, because:

  • We want the team to work with each other, and we don't mind that they hear other conversations going on. Hopefully, if they hear about a problem they can fix quickly, they'll help each other out.
  • It's been suggested that multitasking lowers your ability to efficiently carry out a task by as much as 20%! (e.g. doing your task at hand along with listening to tunes)
  • It can be anti-social - some people can shelter themselves
  • It regularly leads to "oh, I love this song, you should hear it" which subsequently turns into a bigger distraction from work for multiple people

Others have said we are wrong with reasons like:

  • "It helps me give you 100% - since the office is noisy I can concentrate and I need to block out a noisy environment"
    Isn't the music just creating an additional noise source?
  • "It helps me relax"
    Yes, we love hearing a good song, for example, when Adam hears Robbie Williams' "Better man" it gets him pumped a bit and it has a positive effect on his state of mind. We are unconvinced it helps us program better.
  • "In an open office, headphones are not merely transmitters of sound, they are like ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs on a hotel room door." In several open offices using a headphone seems to be encouraged as the most effective for productivity.

There is, however, a use for it being "background" music in some scenarios; like when you are doing time-consuming mindless stuff like fixing data, building VPCs/VMWare or waiting for long builds.

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