Right. You’ve got work piled up to your eyeballs and can afford no more distractions so you plug in your earphones and get right down to it, but making a habit of this can have some very bad effects on your work life.

I’m very lucky in that I work in a relatively quite office with few distractions which is perfect for the job I do. I can write articles, crunch numbers and tackle the admin work all without losing focus due to disruptive co-workers.

Unfortunately not everyone is so lucky and many of us work in environments that are constantly filled with other peoples’ conversations, questions being fired our way and obviously the general chatter that goes with any office environment in the world.

So naturally to help us focus our attention on one specific task we grab our smartphones, plug in the earphones and zone out (or zone in?), which really works well as long as the music itself isn’t too distracting.

The negative side

But maybe it works a little too well. Spending all your time blissfully unaware of what’s happening around you means you miss things that might actually be important. The little snippets of information that get passed around the office, talk about clients and suppliers, problems and possible solutions, all go right over your head.

You can imagine the employee who needs to be shaken every time you want his attention, who it’s impossible to chat with or ask a question and who seems so unapproachable it’s not even funny.

Finding a balance

In my opinion there needs to be a balance. It’s clear that having open communication channels in the office is a good thing for the company, but at the same time we need to be able to choose when to block out external distractions to ensure maximum productivity.

Staff Training is a South African soft skills training company. Contact us at info@StaffTraining.co.za for more information on any of our +30 training workshops or call (021) 839 3021.

What do you think about headphones at work? No big deal? Should they be banned?

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