Headphones Are the Private Office

A few years ago I shared how my team had switched to an open layout and that headphones had become our new ‘walls’. Well, it seems that the trend, now common in startup/tech companies, has become a polarizing topic for some.

Anne Kreamer, author of the book It’s Always Personal: Emotions in the New Workplace, conducted an informal survey, asking friends over 35 in a number of different work environments who wore headphones. What she found is that the younger workmates were strapping on headphones and inadvertently isolating themselves from their workmates.

As my interviews revealed, when we put on our headphones and fire up our messenger client of choice, we effectively make ourselves remote telecommuters even when we are physically present.

Anne Kreamer

From my experiences and perspective it isn’t the headphones or the people, it’s the behaviors you allow on your team. For me, we had morning and afternoon standups with ample time in between to focus on our work. If we’re working on solo projects then I’d want them to focus and limit the distractions of office hustle+bustle. If we were working on a team project then headphones needed to be put aside so we could effectively collaborate.

What are your thoughts? Do you like having people in your office on headphones or do you find it lowers the communication between team members?

photo: photosof.org

Herefish Colophon