A Loud Political Insider

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about coworker with loud political opinions:

By the way, I love the Workplace Doctors Column. I’ve been reading it for a few years now, but I never thought I’d be asking a question, so here goes. I’ve never dealt with a situation quite like this in more than 20 years of office-type work. I’ve been located in all different types of work environments (in open-office work areas, regular cubes, regular offices) and I’ve successfully worked alongside many different types of people. But never one quite like this. Within the past several months, an employee from another section within my division moved to the office next to me. By the way, these are technically offices, but the walls are very, very thin. Even when a person next to you closes his/her door, you can basically hear everything. So, the gentleman who moved next to me is a senior staff member (once in a management position) who is quite loud, in general. read more

Sound Therapy

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about affect of music:

Which songs improve my concentration and brain power?

Signed, Songs Can’t Be Wrong

Dear Songs Can’t Be Wrong:

Your question implies that you think certain types of music affect concentration and brain power. That is a popular impression that merits research and common sense experimentation. We make no claim as music researchers or therapists. As you know if you scan even a few of thousands of Q&As we have posted, our focus is on communication-related workplace matters. But because we frequently get questions like yours, we have investigated what is purported to affect employees’ attitude and performance. read more

Effects Of Repetitious Music

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about repetitious music:

I work in a call centre where baroque music is played over and over on our headphones between calls. I’ve found that even after a few days away from work, the music is still playing over and over in my mind. I’ve had only one week’s exposure to this but am concerned about any long-terms effects. (And I like baroque music, but this has become overwhelming!)

Signed, Over and Over

Dear Over and Over:

Our site has responded to a few questions pertaining to music within the work environment; however we have not claimed expertise in this field. Our focus has been mostly on whether it distracts from work and/or is liked/disliked. You are fortunate to have music that you like. read more

Listening to Music While Working At Fast Food Jobs

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about music  and food prep:

This question is about the whole productivity vs. listening to music question. I was wondering if you knew of any studies relating to food preparation jobs or more specifically fast food jobs.

Signed, Whistling While I Work

Dear Whistling While I Work:

I’m sorry, I don’t know of any specific studies about fast food restaurants and listening to music. I assume you’re referring to personal headsets not the overhead music that is heard in many fast food places anyway. We do have a number of questions about this in our archives, but many are in warehouse or similar settings. In addition, many are older and our opinions, as well as the opinions of some others, have changed somewhat about listening to personal music devices at work. read more

Radios On The Workroom Floor

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about radios  while working:

What is the rule for radios being played on the work floor?

Signed, Turn It On Or Off

Dear Turn It On Or Off:

Rather than answer your question, since we get many like it, I’m forwarding the most recent answer by a guest respondent expert on safety, Robert Byers. His answer is posted and you can read the question if you scan our most recent questions. But even not reading that particular question, you should find his answer helpful: It is not illegal for the employees to wear earphones connected to a music source, but I certainly think it presents major OSHA concerns. The OSHA Hearing Conservation Standard states that employees that are exposed to more than 85 decibels over a time weighted period (TWA) would require the employer to establish a baseline audiogram report for each employee and then retest them each subsequent year, and record any standard threshold shift of 10 decibels or more in either ear on the OSHA 300 log. Then the employer would have to provide effective Personal Protective Equipment to dampen that noise. (after exhausting all engineering attempts to resolve the problem) I would suspect that in a sheetmetal shop, the noise level may very well already exceed that decibel level. read more

WEARING EARPHONES AT WORK?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about  earphones and IPods:

WE ARE A SHEETMETAL WORKSHOP. ARE OUR EMPLOYEES ALLOWED BY LAW TO WEAR EARPHONES CONNECTED TO THEIR IPHONES/IPOD ON THE WORKSHOP FLOOR?

Signed, Ears To Hear

Dear Ears To Hear:

You are indeed fortunate. Robert Byers, an expert in OSHA law and safety consulting, is our guest respondent to your question; he took time from his busy schedule to address your question as follows: It is not illegal for the employees to wear earphones connected to a music source, but I certainly think it presents major OSHA concerns. The OSHA Hearing Conservation Standard states that employees that are exposed to more than 85 decibels over a time weighted period (TWA) would require the employer to establish a baseline audiogram report for each employee and then retest them each subsequent year, and record any standard threshold shift of 10 decibels or more in either ear on the OSHA 300 log. read more

Music In A Production Plant

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about music and safety:

Is it safe to listen to music in a production plant while operating different kinds on equipment?

Signed, Music Guy

Dear Music Guy:

I’m sure you don’t want a “it just depends” answer. If you are a manager, you would prefer evidence to say, “Safety comes first. Music can detract.” If you are an operator, you would prefer to hear, “Music can help your concentration and I’ve been able to listen to music while driving my car and different kinds of machines.” Management of a plant doesn’t want to risk an accident caused by someone listening to music while operating any kind of equipment. If you managed a plant neither would you. Therefore, it is safer to err on the side of “It’s not safe.” read more

Music In Open Office Landscaping

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about listening to  music:

Which is more appropriate: Listening to music at a volume where it’s annoying to others? Listening to music using headphones or earbuds? Is it unprofessional to use earbuds if the position does not have to interact with customers?

Signed, Ears To Hear

Dear Ears To Hear:

Music while you work can make the day go better, unless that music is annoying and distracting. Apparently, you are annoyed with loud music and think there is a better policy for music within the workplace. There is. As you mention “earbuds” enable employees with jobs that don’t require communication with coworkers and customers to listen to music without disturbing others. This technology enables listening to music while you work to be private. However, there is also something lost when every employee is self-absorbed with music piped into her/him ears and is not interacting with others present. read more

Listening To Music While Working

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about listening to music while working :

Does listening to music while working affect focus?

Signed, I Like To Listen

Dear I Like To Listen:

I assume you would like to prove you know the answer to this question. We aren’t music scholars or industrial psychologists, but we have received and answered many questions about music and noise at work. The answer seems to be that “it depends” on the job, type of personal preference as to whether music is a help or distraction. Rather than repeat, if interested, search our archives for answers. read more

Gum Chewing Boss

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss who chews and pops her gum:

Help! My boss chews and pops her gum worse than a teenager. If she were my child, I would have had that gum in the trashcan before the second pop! What can I do? The most annoying thing is when she stands behind me chewing and smacking in my ear. It is like fingers on a chalkboard. I have put my iPod on and taken to wearing earplugs, but this is so unprofessional.

Signed, Annoyed!

Dear Annoyed!:

You are annoyed! It is enough to drive you up the wall. Fortunately you’ve found ways to shut the gum popping out of your ears but not out of your mind. What can you do? Continue to fume inside or kindly but firmly tell your boss that it really bothers you, especially when she chews and pops near you. Sure it is the kind of thing you would have stopped if she were your child, but she isn’t rather she is your boss. read more