There are always two sides to an issue, and listening to music in the office is no different. Although this seems like a somewhat simple problem, I have discovered through my research that employees are constantly complaining about office music rules.
If you want to get the legality side of the issue, every employee has the right to work in an environment where they feel comfortable. Therefore, the music situation has been solved with headphones — or so I thought. As it turns out, there are still problems with both the music enthusiasts and the office music cynics.
Whether you are the employee who is unhappy with the music, the employee who is unhappy with the lack thereof, or the employer trying to figure out what’s best for the office, it is important to understand both sides to the issue. There are solutions, but part of the solution entails understanding where each party is coming from in their opinions. Consider both sides to the story below:
Office Music? No Thanks
First, some people do not speak up about the music issue because they do not want to anger employees who have been working at the company for a long time. Imagine if you were the new guy or the new girl, and everyone has been listening to music for the last year. Do you want to come in and tell everyone you don’t like it and it has to stop? Probably not.
However, the truth is there are probably other employees, ones that have been working there the entire year, who feel the same way you do. There may be an office member who is very outspoken about liking the music, and this can make it even harder to speak up. But the truth is, for some, office music can be distracting. If you fall into this category, consider a few of the following solutions:
- Be Casual—Bring up the issue in a casual way to your employees. Make a job about the subject and see how people respond. If you find that there are others bothered by the music (and most people do), then you will feel more comfortable bringing it up to a boss or to the older employees who are used to music. Think of it like a business proposal—it’s just an idea.
- Turn Off Speakers—If there is a speaker system, there is usually a way to turn certain speakers off and on. If everyone around you isn’t interested in the music, see if you can turn off the speakers in your area. Some departments can work okay with office music while others need more concentration. Since departments usually sit together, this solution could work brilliantly.
- Noise Canceling Headphones—This is certainly the least desirable option, but if you do not feel the issue is big enough to bring to your boss and your co-workers won’t turn off the music, consider bringing in your own headphones. Even if they are not labeled “noise canceling,” this option could very well solve the problem.
Let the Music Play
Secondly, there are those who love to listen to music during work. For employees who work in customer service, it helps to have music in the background because they are constantly on the phone. It doesn’t matter if the person is using VoIP technology or a traditional business phone service.
The fact of the matter is that it can be tough to try and hold a conversation when the person next to you is also on the phone. For this reason, many people need some sort of white noise to drown out the voices of others. However, plugging in one ear phone would be too overbearing; therefore making the phone conversation much more difficult.
Some people also work better with music playing. However, IT departments sometimes get nervous that individuals will stream music if headphones are allowed. This could push the company’s bandwidth limits to the top; therefore costing the company a lot of money. Headphones are also not allowed by some companies because they prevent employees from hearing the phone ring and/or reduce company synergy and teamwork. This makes work hard for those who love to listen to music.
- White Noise CD—If you are someone who really needs to drown out other people talking on the phone, consider suggesting a white noise CD. These CD’s are sold for this exact purpose, and they generally do not bother those who don’t like music. The sounds are different than music, so this could be a win-win situation for everyone.
- IPod—If your IT department is worried about streaming music, bring in your IPod and leave one ear out so you can hear phone calls and work together in groups. Even if “no headphones” is a company policy, your boss will likely understand. If you can prove you get more work done listening to music, your boss should have no issue.
- Be Discrete—Bosses, turn your head for this one: Some employees simply keep quiet about listening to music in the office. I have noticed from reading many blogs that this is actually a very popular solution amongst music-liking employees. If you have black headphones and you make sure you keep one ear out so that you can hear if you someone is talking to you, no one has to know. They even make wireless headphones if that would you feel more comfortable.
In the end, it is important to be respectful of both opinions and try to come up with some sort of compromise. However, if a compromise cannot be met, those who don’t want the music will always win. If this is the case, try to learn to get by without music. It may be difficult at first, but if you have a positive attitude you might find that you never needed the music in the first place.
What are your thoughts about office music?
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