Do you wear headphones while working in the office? That’s a faux pas, says etiquette bible Debrett’s
- Many people now wear headphones or earbuds to listen to music at work
They are permanently stuck in the ears of many young people.
And now a debate has sprung up about whether wearing headphones at work is rude and anti-social — or, on the contrary, increases concentration.
Many people now wear headphones or earbuds to listen to music or podcasts, or simply to block out office calls while at work.
Some got used to the often distracting background noise of children or pets while working from home during the lockdown and the headphones stayed in place when they returned to the office.
Now Debrett’s, the 250-year-old British etiquette bible, has attempted to settle the debate once and for all by ruling that headphones should be largely avoided at work.
A debate has started over whether wearing headphones at work is rude and anti-social – or increases concentration (File image)
Liz Wyse, etiquette consultant at the authority on etiquette, said: “If you work in an open office where there is regular conversation and ideas exchanged between colleagues, don’t wear AirPods or headphones.
‘You are a much more valuable employee if you stay alert, tune in to conversations around you and contribute.’ She said employees shouldn’t leave any AirPods in — as is the trend among many young people — when talking to colleagues if they don’t want to appear half-dedicated and distracted. However, there are some exceptions.
Ms Wyse told The Times: ‘If your office is very noisy and you have work to do that requires intense concentration, you can tell colleagues to use headphones to cancel out noise and gain focus.
“But it’s better to find a breakout room or quiet space where you can work.” There is some academic debate about the benefits of listening to music while working. Some studies have shown that music can impair concentration, while on the other hand, the Mozart effect means that listening to Mozart’s songs can temporarily increase one’s IQ.
Many people now wear headphones or earbuds to listen to music or podcasts, or simply to block office calls while at work (File image)
A survey by Oxford Economics analysts found that employees aged 35 and under were most annoyed by ambient noise in an office environment and were likely to say it distracted them.
First published in 1769, Debrett’s has produced guides on protocol and form for everything from appealing to royalty to how to be the perfect modern gentleman.
Recently, the etiquette bible launched a work-from-home guide with suggestions such as not wearing too casual attire for video calls and resisting “gathering joy.”
The renowned handbook more often regulates traditional forms of etiquette. It recently said the practice of a man asking a woman’s father for her hand in marriage before proposing is outdated.