Dh uses them at work. He works in IT and spends a lot of the day programming. In order to get his job done he needs to be uninterrupted and able to focus on the job at hand. Since the days of actual 'offices' are gone and people are expected to concentrate with all the noise and buzz of open plan workplaces, I think its only reasonable they be given some leeway to create their own workspace and tools for concentration.
They have a time and a place. I wear them if I have a deadline and don't want distractions. Only ever for an hour or so. It's common in my office. I work in marketing and it is a social job to throw ideas around etc, but that creates a lot of noise.
As long as it's not all day every day I see no issue. Though if you have a client facing role and are in charge of answering the phones then it's not acceptable.
In a way it's the same as being in an individual office and closing the door, it's like a do not disturb sign. As long as it's not all the time or you're unable to perform your role properly in doing so, I have no issue.
My headphones in was a "do not disturb" mostly at end of month when I needed to be in the zone to get everything completed. But then my colleagues knew to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention. Mind you my music was never loud so I could still hear if somebody called me. I loved it as I found that my work was better and far more enjoyable. The only calls or interaction I really needed was over the phone in which I called them not the other way around. Plus we had Lync so most interaction could be done over IM
We have an open plan office, when we need to concentrate and time out we will use earphones, but we also let our direct colleagues know
My dh uses them, but he is anti social. He mainly uses them because there is a slightly cray cray person who sits near him who persistently whispers under her breath all day. She breaks his brain.
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