I work as a software developer in my enterprise. I don't have my own office so I have to share the same office (pretty big office) with other engineers (not software developers).

These workmates spend a lot of time with headphones or putting music through speakers.

Our boss never tell them to stop. To be completely honest it doesnt bother me. The thing is how professional is it?

Sometimes I really would like to listen to one of my favorite tracks but I'm afraid that I could loose professionalism at work ( I'm new I have only 3 months inside the company).

Is it really unprofessional listening to music at work?

Addition: Our boss is really close to us. He's not the type of person that calls you or sends you email. He comes to your desk and ask you questions about your progress. For example: The other day my boss was trying to get attention of a workmate and he couldnt listen because he had headphones on.

  • it all depends on the workplace Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 14:35
  • 2
    No, it's not unprofessional. Especially for developers, it is generally used as a means of focusing better on your task, and to be less distracted by what is going on around you. Some may view it as unprofessional but that is an antiquated belief.
    – pay
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 14:37
  • 1
    I would say headphones are fine, speakers are not. I have a set of good noise-cancelers on all day at work. Even if nothing is playing in them, it helps cut other conversations, noise from a/c or fans or whatever and seems to keep people from coming to me to just chat.
    – bluegreen
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 14:40
  • 4
    I will never (read ever) work long-term at a place that won't let me listen to music with headphones. If you tell me that I can't wear headphones then you're preventing me from being as productive as I can be and setting me up to fail.
    – Chris E
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 15:10
  • Get decent closed noise-cancelling headphones. I checked with my colleagues, sitting at the desk nearest to mine and with volume at a level that becomes uncomfortable, they cannot even hear any music from my headphones, much less be disturbed by it. Speakers I'd find unacceptable, and open head phones or in-ear head phones leak too much sound for my taste.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 9:07

3 Answers 3


I work in a large consultancy company, where we have a hot desk policy, so our office is often occupied by consultants and the likes, as a member of the 'appdev' team we are the only ones in the office with fixed desks.

Headphones in the work environment as a developer, in my opinion are perfectly acceptable, as in I wouldn't necessarily say that using them is inherently 'unprofessional'.

One of the main considerations to be aware of is that there should be no 'bleed thorugh' coming from the headphones people use that may distract other people within the working environment.

It's worth considering that a lot of the time developers (and other types of professionals) may do this to block out distractions, and in some instances it can lead to increases in productivity. (There are numerous examples of this from a simple google search, one example can be found here.)

In terms of professionalism, at the end of the day activities such as listening to music can be prohibited in some companies and allowed in others. It depends entirely on the type of culture that company has adopted.

In most instances however I wouldn't say it was unprofessional. Whether it's allowed or not is a company by company issue.

  • Cool! It's acceptable. What I see is really annoying and unprofessional. Is when someone is trying to call your attention. For example: The other day my boss was trying to get attention of a workmate and he wasn't listening because of the headphones. If I were in my boss place... I WOULD BE MAD. What do you think?
    – NathanWay
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 14:38
  • Wel that's slightly different, just because I sit and listen to music, doesn't mean I shouldn't be aware of my surroundings. It's never come up as an issue for us before.
    – JoeTomks
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 14:40

Is it really unprofessional listening to music at work?

Not at all.

As long as you aren't bothering others (which argues for headphones or earbuds), and as long as you remain productive, what you listen to is unlikely to matter at all.

Every software environment where I've ever worked had many folks listening while they worked.

You've already seen the norm at your company. If you still have doubts, ask your boss.

  • This is the thing. I really care about my boss opinion. I dont have to much working here and I really would like him to take as a good employee that doesnt listen to music (LOL).
    – NathanWay
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 14:46
  • Then listen to the music at a low enough volume that you can still hear him if he tries to get your attention, and take off the headphones when talking to others. What's unprofessional isn't the listening to music, it's being unable to detect others attempting to get your attention and not taking the headphones off when talking to others. I normally wear on-ear headphones and move them forward a bit so they're sitting on my temples. I can hear the environment around me and the music just fine.
    – afrazier
    Commented Jul 18, 2017 at 14:49

It depends mostly on the type of job you are doing.

Any work that requires constant communication with coworkers or clients, such as a secretary or a manager, wouldn't allow someone to professionally listen to music.

For other jobs, such as software developpement, that requires hours of concentration on a specific task, it would seem rather acceptable.

However, at the end of the day, the decision comes down to workplace policies and wether or not your boss allows you to do it. The rest is purely personal opinions.


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