Headphones. I hate them. If I wore headphones at work I would be cut off from a lot of vital information about what is really going. It would hamper Management on the Ground. So I never wear them.
Checking what is going on
As a programme manager I use observation, eavesdropping and overhearing to spot issues early and intervene. With headphones a lot of my ability to do this would disappear. It would be like turning off email. Or leaving my mobile turned off. I’d be cutting myself off. Can’t do it.
So not surprising I’m puzzled when I see other folk – particularly certain roles – wearing headphones. Product owner, project manager, and business analyst. Anybody who has to be across the whole product or a reasonable chunk of it. They, like me, need to be tuned into what is happening and headphones interfere with this. Clearly they don’t realise the benefit of listening to what is going on around them.
Heads down to get some coding done
In contrast I can understand why developers and testers might want to cut off from the general hubbub in the room. They also benefit from listening to the team chatter, but are also most productive when cut off and in the zone. Headphones can help that.
Mix ‘n’ match
Tech Leads are in that interesting middle ground. They can benefit from listening to what is going on but they also need to go heads down and do some hard coding. So I can understand why they mix ‘n’ match – sometimes with head phones, sometimes without.
But personally I’d lose too much information. Headphones off.