Brit dopers. Is the radio part of office life?

I work in an office. For the first 10 years of my professional career, I worked for British firms. I remember that there were no radios or music allowed in the 4 places that I worked. All were R+D/Engineering type environments - drafting boards and really old CAD computers. No music. I thought that was the norm.

When I came to the US, radios, CD players and cassette players were basically in every cubicle as they are today.

Are radios/CD/MP3 players allowed in traditional UK office environments. For example, if I walked into the offices of The Times, would I hear music?

We did have a tea lady who came around at 10:30 and 4:00. Haven’t seen that here although she was replaced by a vending machine in 1982. :slight_smile:

In over 20 years I’ve only heard a radio on in the office for important events or when we were working on a weekend. Workshops are another matter - I’ve often heard radios there.

Do note that if a radio is on regularly, then the employer has to pay.

None of the proper offices I worked in while temping in London generally had radios. I don’t think that they were particularly not allowed, but it just wasn’t something people did. (Drove me crazy, actually.)

There was one exception, when I was working with about ten other temps doing a massive, multi-week data entry project. The company kindly provided a radio, mostly with the hopes of preserving our sanity.

No kidding. I’m a secretary, and I’d go batshit without my iPod.

Hmmm, I’m slowly going batshit with the radio on in the office, the girls seem to think it strange and eerie that the office should be quiet without it :rolleyes:

Yeah. Experiencing 9/11 unfolding through the medium of Imagine FM, while working in an airport warehouse, was a bizarre experience, to say the least.

I see this as a poll/shared experiences thread. So, over to IMHO.

samclem GQ moderator

We don’t have anything at work which is usually audible outside the cubicle that holds it: no radios for background music, for example. Nobody would be able to decide what to listen to.

However. Just about everyone who works in a cubicle without needing to speak with anyone for a long period of time–concentrating over text, for example–has headphones. That’s us writers, for example. And programmers. And presumably others.

And just as I type, one of the girls goes over to switch on the radio, bloody brilliant. I wouldn’t mind but its a pretty shitty station. The aerial snapped off so we only get local stations, with local accents, shit music and shit humour :rolleyes:

As others have mentioned, it depends on the environment.

I think it depends on a number of factors - is the office customer-facing? Do people need to spend a lot of time on the phone? Does everyone, broadly speaking, share the same musical tastes? etc.

In my last place we generally had the radio on. We were all techies and had that office floor to ourself, so there wasn’t the danger of it appearing unprofessional to customers/clients and the phone traffic was minimal. We also all broadly liked the same kind of music.

It was a very pleasant and relaxed environment as a result and it meant people actually talked to each other - if the radio hadn’t been there then chances are we’d all have had headphones on anyway. At least this way conversations could happen as well as discussions of particular songs, stations or news stories.

We didn’t just confine ourselves to radio either - now and again someone would supply a song name which would be stuck into Pandora and we’d listen to the results for a while.

In my current place that’s not possible, because my team currently shares a floor with a number of journalists who are regularly involved in phone interviews - that makes the radio impractical.

The odd time something decent is played (there was a while when some great stuff from the 80s was played of a morning) its slightly uplifting, but most of the time its plain distracting.

The only bit of good conversation is from Anja bless her, who actually reads the news and so doesn’t limit her conversation to fecking holiday homes in Florida or how drunk she was over the weekend. Also, as a fellow parent, we get to discuss toddler things.

I work in an open-plan office where we don’t have any music at all, in fact I don’t think it’s encouraged anywhere in the university. However, I’ve seen plenty of people working with headphones on and using iPods or MP3 players. I shall be joining them shortly, when I finally get round to charging up my MP3 and putting some music on it.

Of course, the one thing we did get was an email from the section director telling us we are not allowed to use the office power supplies to charge up MP3s, iPods or mobile phones…

Workshops etc. will generally have a radio playing. When I worked on the production floor in IBM a radio was allowed at night but not during the day when there were outside guests etc. on the floor.

No office I have ever worked in had a radio playing. We are allowed to listen to i-pods etc if we are at our desks though. In fact as I’m typing this I’m listening to Stephen Fry read Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince in preparation for the new book.

He/she is probably under the ridiculous health-and-safety misconception that everything plugged in has to have been through a safety check of some kind.

Or they could be the scarier type of management who doesn’t want you stealing the company’s electricity.


If I have Radio 2 playing in the office, then I have to pay royalties even though the broadcaster has already paid (or not in the case of the BBC) for the broadcast rights? :confused:

Just makes me laugh that they have to make a point of telling us we can’t use the company’s electricity to charge up appliances we’re not supposed to be using in the first place!

Yup, the Performing Rights Society has to be paid, even for things like coaches where a radio is played. Pub jukeboxes too, I believe. The BBC pays the same fees as every other broadcaster.

Not playing out loud at any office where I’ve worked or visited though there are plenty of guys here with cans on and one of the testers listens to the QVC channel :eek:

Radios tuned to something obnoxious are an absoulute requirement for:

Builders, painters and decorators


White vans

During my (short) stint as a White Van Man I listened to Radio Four all day. I really was out of place in that job.

Ugh. That hasn’t been my experience at all, and it’s also a beef of mine. I’m a fookin’ programmer. I spend a lot of my time figuring out complicated logic puzzles. No, I can’t do it to fookin’ music or talk shows or listening to the sales staff make phone calls. I need it to be quiet.

Research backs me up; there’s plenty of studies that equate quiet working conditions to high programmer productivity. Headphones = not quiet.

My last office job took it to the extreme. When they eventually moved us into one big room with cubicles and expected the coders to be able to code when sitting next to people who’s jobs were to be on the phone talking all day I knew it was time to move on.