Reasons not to listen


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


Music listening was not deemed suitable when respondents needed to communicate with clients or colleagues;

You miss office discussions and these can be very important when you work in a team and the discussions are usually work related. (397, F: 36-45, Technical Infrastructure Specialist)

Another common reason for not listening to music in the office was distraction. Respondents described how concentration and music listening can “contradict each other” and that it is “impossible to concentrate properly and listen to music” at the same time (184, 36-45yrs, Assistant Director).

Respondents were concerned that music at work could disturb others:

Personally I feel it would be inappropriate to listen to music out loud in the workplace, especially in an open plan office. With varying tastes in music it could cause more stress for people being made to listen to music given the choice they would not. (12, F: 26-35yrs, Sales Administrator)

Headphones were often perceived as a useful way to minimise disturbance, although one respondent pointed out that “poor quality headphones may lead to noise pollution” (415, M: 18-25yrs, Examinations Assistant).

Some respondents showed a concern for the business image. They were sometimes worried that having music on in the background would “display an unprofessional image” (40, F: 26-35yrs, HR Consultant) and even be considered “a little bit rude” (183, M: 46- 55, Senior Academic Liaison Librarian) towards clients.


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