Take Off Your Headphones

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If you wear headphones at work you may feel they drown out distractions and help you focus. But headphones — whether you’re listening to music or not — also isolate you from your work environment and that can have negative consequences. When you’re cut off from the informal conversations going on around you, you miss out on the opportunity to contribute to meaningful discussions about work and form bonds with your colleagues. The more you participate in the ambient, informal life of the office, the more committed you’ll be to the work of the company. If you need intense focus, wear your headphones every once in a while. But don’t make it a habit.

Adapted from “Workers, Take Off Your Headphones” by Anne Kreamer.

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5 comments
NC doc
NC doc

This guy needs to read CNNs article from last week that noted open offices are LESS productive and the conclusion was that workers should wear headphones. These Harvard guys should keep up on the news.

Raymond Chuang
Raymond Chuang

It really depends on your job. If your work involve a lot of interaction with other coworkers and/or customers, headphones are definitely out of the question.

Jay_In_Austin
Jay_In_Austin

Sure ... wearing headphones at work will prevent you from participating in office gossip, rumors, and mischief - and give you the ability to focus on your job - so when some right-wing-nut-job says that isn't good for you (or your employer), you might want to consider that some people are more interested in their "ideas" than in "performing their job."  Take your pick....

rdfInOP
rdfInOP

 I've worked in 4 different environments.

1.  Bullpen, no cube walls.  Hated it.

2.  Very quiet cubicles with 6' walls and massive sound absorbtion.  It was ok but visitors felt compelled to speak in whispers.  Kind of creepy.

3.  5' Cube walls with standard acoustic tiles on the ceiling and hard walls.

4.  Private office with a door.

I liked 3 the best.  I felt more connected there but could still concentrate just fine (I'm a computer programmer).  When we moved to offices, everyone felt disconnected but didn't want to give up the offices.  Those things are very seductive.  We chipped in and bought a ping-pong table, foosball table and some video games but to draw people out.