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Ask HN: Does your office have quiet working conditions?
7 points by algo on Mar 19, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments
I work in a design agency that plays Radio 6 Music from 9-5. I used to turn my headphones up to cover it - and help me get in the zone - but a recent night out has bumped up my tinnitus level so I'm trying to keep levels low.

Do you work in an office which has music playing and does it impact (positively/negatively) on your work rate?




I'd quit my office if they had music playing from 9-5. There are already way too many distractions. From people walking by to the printers to general office chatter.

A lot of people use headphones in my office, but occasionally someone has the bright idea to turn on their speakers because they misplaced their headphones and well we usually ask them to turn it off.

To answer your question: most noise negatively impacts my work.


Wow, that's horrible. I would probably get nothing done in that office. Mine is silent apart from occasional talking, but even then for anything extended/scheduled people tend to grab a room so it doesn't disturb others.

I would recommend getting some better headphones/foam earbud tips to block the noise. I have some earbuds with Comply foam tips, which block noise extremely well at safe listening volumes to the point where I can hear my music clearly on the train, so office noise is no issue.


I've got some Sennheiser HD25's atm. I've been looking into headphones (over-ear & closed) that are better are reducing external noise. The comply foam tips look interesting, thanks for the tip :)


You really can't play music in an environment where knowledge workers go about their day! That notion is crazy to me. That's like playing disco during a grandmaster chess tournament.

Personally I could work with or without the music. My office doesn't play music. If they did I would complain -- sometimes you just aren't in the mood for tunes.

That being said I've heard anecdotally that music without lyrics doesn't detriment productivity too much.


We don't have music, we get White Noise pumped through the PA system 24/7. It has the weird effect of the overall ambient noise being slightly higher than no sound. But it also makes keyboard and voice noises attenuate to background more quickly, so I don't (intelligibly) here people talking across the room.

It's fairly open office with 4' cube walls organizing things into sections.

I use my headphones to listen to music about 70% of the time. I put up a sign that reads, "Super headphones in. I can't hear you. please kick chair or otherwise make your presence known."

Unless you're an elevator attendant, work in retail, or someplace like a salon I don't think you should have to deal with mandatory workplace music.

Instead of using louder noises to block out your office, have you had any success with active noise cancellation headphones?


We used to play music on Friday afternoons in my old office.

But we realized quickly that this was disruptive to many people. You need to give knowledge workers a “clean slate” environment so they can change it into one that lets them perform their best, but without affecting others.


No music but there's about 100 people on an open plan floor; at least half of which are frequent phone conference / desk meeting participants.


Same as my work environment. I have to have headphones on most of the time.


I used to work in a coworking office. They didn't play music but I still found other people having conversations quite distracting. Working from a spare room at home again which is quite quiet. Having said that, it's not today as my little one is poorly and at home and cranky... which has quite a negative impact on my ability to focus.


Nope. Between music, noise from the street and the constant overlapping conversations, magnified by the fact that we're probably over the allowed occupancy for our space, I sometimes have a hard time hearing people sitting across from me. In this company's effort to save money, they've ended up hurting productivity.


My office is a little too distracting sometimes, more than I am used to. It's not music. It's just that there is too much happening around me (lot of people in one big room). The artificial lights don't help.


Not at all. My workplace is in a warehouse that frequently has fork lifts running in and out of it, including some construction and cleaning with noxious chemicals.

I'm a web developer.


Yes, unless the CEO is in the office, and then he turns on the radio.




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