They are permanently glued to the ears of many youngsters.
And now a debate has been sparked over whether wearing headphones while at work is rude and antisocial – or allows for greater levels of concentration.
Many people now wear headphones or earbuds to listen to music or podcasts, or simply to block out office conversations, while they are at work.
Some became used to the often-distracting background noise of children or pets while working from home during lockdown and the headphones have remained in place upon returning to the office.
Now Debrett’s, the 250-year-old British etiquette bible, has tried to settle the debate once and for all – ruling that headphones should largely be avoided while at work.
A debate has been sparked over whether wearing headphones while at work is rude and antisocial – or allows for greater levels of concentration (File image)
Liz Wyse, etiquette adviser at the authority on manners, said: ‘If you work in an open-plan office where there is frequent conversation and interchange of ideas between colleagues, do not wear AirPods or headphones.
‘You will be a much more valuable staff member if you stay alert, tune into conversations around you and make a contribution.’ She said workers should not leave a single AirPod in – as is the trend with many young people – when talking to colleagues if they do not want to look half-committed and distracted. There are some exceptions, however.
Ms Wyse told The Times: ‘If your office is very noisy and you have a piece of work to do that demands intense concentration, you could tell colleagues that you’re using headphones to cancel noise and gain focus.
‘It would be a better option, however, to find a breakout room or quiet space where you can work.’ There is some academic debate over the benefits of listening to music while working. Some studies have found that music can hurt concentration, while on the other hand the Mozart effect holds that listening to the songs of Mozart can temporarily boost somebody’s IQ.
Many people now wear headphones or earbuds to listen to music or podcasts, or simply to block out office conversations, while they are at work (File image)
A study by the analysts at Oxford Economics found that workers aged 35 and under were the most annoyed by ambient noise in an office environment and most likely to say it distracted them.
First published in 1769, Debrett’s has produced guides on protocol and form for everything from addressing Royalty to how to be the perfect modern gentleman.
Recently the etiquette bible launched a guide to working from home that included suggestions such as not wearing too casual clothing for video calls and resisting ‘meeting munchies’.
The distinguished handbook more frequently rules on traditional forms of etiquette. Recently it said that the practice of a man asking a woman’s father for her hand in marriage before making his proposal is now outdated.