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Employees ?tuning out? in the workplace

Date 31 Oct 2006
Author The Editor

More than a fifth of office workers in the UK are putting up ‘virtual walls’ with their MP3 players, new research suggests. A study by workplace interiors specialists Woods Bagot London revealed that 22% of workers are tuning out their workplace by plugging in their headphones.

Simon Pole, head of corporate interiors at Woods Bagot, said: “UK workers are spending an average of three hours per day listening to music and podcasts. “By wearing the highly-visible white headphones, they’re also sending a signal to colleagues that they don’t want to be bothered.”

30% of offices have banned MP3 players from the workplace, the study found. Woods Bagot believes that MP3 players have created a divide between older workers and members of the ‘iPod generation’, but warns that bans may not be the best approach.

Cary Cooper, Professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University said: “Employers are wrong to ban MP3 players from the workplace. It’s crucial to give workers autonomy and bans of any sort can alienate workers. Bosses shouldn’t care about how employees accomplish their objectives or if they want to engrossed themselves in MP3 players – as long as the job gets done.”

Mr Pole agreed, saying: “Bans are more likely to isolate workers than affect real change. Creating better work environments that encourage a company culture of interaction and teamwork is the only way to get more workers tuned into team work and not their iPod.”

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