It's easy to throw on a pair of headphones at work and focus in on a task. Doing so creates a bit of isolation when you're surrounded by people, and that might help you pay more attention to the work that needs to get done. However, the Harvard Business Review suggests this isn't as good an idea as it might seem.
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It's no secret that tossing on a pair of noise-cancelling headphones is an easy way to shut out the outside world and get things done. Still, doing so all the time has its downsides. As the Harvard Business Review Points out:
It's about information exchange, resource exchange, idea generation and on and on. If an employee is glued to her desk with headphones on, immersed in music and G-chatting with her best buddy, she is missing the opportunity to create relationships with people on the job who might be launching a project for which she'd be perfect, or who's kicking around the idea to launch a new firm that needs precisely her talents.
It goes both ways, of course, a point that we've made here before. Sometimes headphones are the only thing that keep you sane and focused at work. Some research suggests working in isolation is great for creativity and productivity.
However, keeping headphones on all the time also keeps you out of the bigger loop, whether it's news about projects in other departments or potential work on your end. What do you think, do you feel isolated at work when you're wearing headphones? Is that a bad thing?
Workers, Take Off Your Headphones [Harvard Business Review]