Interviews conclusion


To cite or reference this content, please use the following reference:

Haake, A. B. (2010). Music listening in offices: Balancing internal needs and external considerations (Doctoral thesis, University of Sheffield, Sheffield) accessed from


When interviewees talked about music listening in their offices, there was one main process that emerged in nearly all of their comments. This process consisted of an individual having to filter “internal needs” (managing internal/external environments, enjoyment of music) through “external considerations” (e.g. welfare of organisation, welfare of others, auditory awareness). Thus, when people choose to listen to music at work, they engage in a process of balancing and compromising these internal and external aspects.

This does not happen automatically just because external demands are present, but is more specifically linked to employees’ awareness of these external factors. I have therefore called this aspect “external considerations”. An important factor is to what extent employees are aware and consider these demands. This process was discovered through the emergence of a high-level theme that I have called “responsible listening”, which can be understood as a manifestation of this balancing process.

Responsible listening could be practiced in many different ways, depending on what the internal and external aspects were. For example, if one wanted to concentrate, yet needed to remain aware of the office surroundings, then the listening behaviour was carried out in a way that allowed the listener to do so. For some, this meant listening with one earpiece. For others, it meant listening to music with a thin texture, so that other sounds could permeate their musical space, or listening to music on a low volume. If employees wanted to manage their disrupting thoughts during a boring task in a shared space, but still not disturb others, then some listened to radio as it was perceived as more neutral than self-chosen music.


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