Should I allow my employees to wear headphones?

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Whether staff should be allowed to wear headphones in the workplace is disputable. Many individuals find listening to music whilst working relaxing and find that it allows them to work more thoroughly. Although to some, listening to music through headphones can be distracting – resulting in work not being completed properly or mistakes made.


Those who like wearing headphones whilst working will argue that, the positive benefits include:

– music helps de-stress

– helps stay focused

– drives productivity

– helps to motivate you

– making strenuous tasks more bearable

– signalling to colleagues that you are busy and do not want to be disturbed

– prevention of interruptions

Research has shown that music is an effective method for relaxation and stress management. Listening to upbeat music at work can make you feel more optimistic and positive towards what you are doing; whereas slower music is known to relax your mind allowing you to feel de-stressed.

Although, if you discussed this matter with an individual who does not wear earphones at work, they may find it hard to believe that it is anything other than a distraction or even anti-social and rude. It has often been said, those who wear headphones at work are isolating themselves from the rest of the room, portraying ignorance.

Headphones are undeniably a health and safety hazard – it makes you unaware of your surroundings. Listening to loud music could potentially result in you missing a fire alarm, or hearing instructions. As well as this, a colleague may have fallen behind you or needed urgent assistance but the volume is so loud, you wouldn’t be able to hear…

If you enjoy or benefit from wearing headphones in the workplace then it’s a good idea to take some consideration for your employer and your colleagues, as it’s important you keep good working relationships. To do so, you could try listening to music with just one earphone or for headphone wearers, refrain from turning the volume up so loud as well as not wearing noise cancelling headphones. It is imperative to remember, not all workplaces allow employees to wear headphones at work, whether the reasoning be due to Health and Safety risks or simply because it doesn’t comply with their companies code of conduct.

If you’re a business owner unsure of whether to allow headphone use in the workplace, it’s vital you analyse potential risks of your employees doing so. Do they need to listen out for instructions? Are they operating machinery? Although there isn’t any specific health and safety regulation that bans headphone use at work, in certain workplaces where there are risks it is reasonable to put a ban in place.

If your workplace is office based, there isn’t really any harm in allowing employees to wear headphones as long as they are working efficiently. Although, if there is any concern that your employees are being distracted by their headphones or if they are causing a distraction, it may be necessary to have rules in place, such as; keeping music at a moderate volume and for earphone wearers to only wear one.

If you have any HR concerns regarding implementing site rules around headphones or have any misconduct issues, please contact our HR partner for further advice and support.