I have long held, and to a degree enforced, a no headphones policy within the Account Handling team here at Initials. I believe wearing them restricts information share, learning, communication and reduces the general atmosphere around the office.

In turn I'm sometimes accused of being a bit of a dinosaur, someone who just doesn't "get" the younger members of the team or fails to accept that productivity goes up when you are squirrelled away with your Sennheisers in.

In an office where space and meeting rooms are at a premium I get that there are odd occasions where people can benefit from a bit of "quiet?", but my feeling is that these should be infrequent exceptions to the rule rather that at the expense of phones not being picked up or colleagues needing to be battered over the head for their attention to be grabbed.

Recently faced by a bit of light hearted flak, I decided to do what we should always do when we need to justify something. Turn to Google and find someone far more qualified to make the point!

I was delighted therefore to find the link below. Not hidden in the depths of Google, but right up there on search page one, and as an added bonus, published in the Harvard Business Review. Can't say fairer than that….


To summarise what is a fairly wordy piece, the wearing of head phones can lead to a loss of collegiate spirit, of company culture, of common purpose, of opportunity, of loyalty and of communicating by that old fashioned thing, your voice. And, surely the most persuasive point for those millennial readers amongst you, FOMO. Or is that "a" FOMO? I'll get there before long...

Now for every one of these articles there will be one that talks about how productivity can go up and that surely should be the overriding point? Well perhaps, if we worked on a line picking out dodgy potatoes or spent our days in a highly corporate world inputting data. But we don't, we work in a Communications Agency, and in this descriptor should lie the big fat clue.

PS: if you have a good excuse to wear headphones you just need to ask. Email your request though and you may get a different answer

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