WHEN SILENCE BECOMES MUSIC: Advantages and disadvantages of headphones in open-plan offices.

By Christa Schwandtner, 18.01.2019

In team or open-plan offices, there are many distractions. These could be the noise level or continuous interruptions by colleagues. Some employees would rather withdraw into a quiet corner. Unfortunately however, many companies do not offer the possibility of silent rooms or single offices. Headphones can be of some help. However, the opinions on using headphones in the office are very far apart. Some are convinced of the advantages and see them as a supportive tool in open-plan offices, others in turn say that they are a distraction from work. We have listed the most important pros and cons of headphones.



  • Lively music can increase productivity during monotonous work processes. During difficult tasks, the right music supports highly concentrated work.
  • Headphones suitable for the office should be wireless, fitted with a microphone and should be able to connect with your telephone or online communication tool. In this way, employees can communicate without problems and have both hands free.
  • Good over-ear headphones have a noise-cancelling effect. Hence, thanks to electronics and noise-cancelling materials, sources of noise are eliminated.
  • Headphones can significantly improve the sound quality of video conferences thanks to high-tech.
  • Some headphones also offer sound masking. They dampen the noises in their environment and also cover these with pleasant environmental noises – the sound of a tranquil seashore, for example.



  • Not every genre of music is suitable for concentrated working. Some of your preferred songs will have precisely the opposite effect.
  • Headphones in the office are not meant to completely isolate you from the environment. Stay approachable for your colleagues.
  • You should also watch out that your own volume is not too high. If you yourself can hardly hear any more, there is a danger that you are now too loud for the other people in the office.
  • If you keep your headphones on from morning until evening and avoid all communication with colleagues, you will start to make yourself unpopular in the long term. In team offices above all, it’s important to benefit from the work-related conversations of others.


And one more tip to finish off: be sure to choose the right headphones. Don’t underestimate your comfort when wearing them, because an unpleasant pressing feeling around your head will reduce your comfort and as a consequence, the optimum requirement for concentration.

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