Whether it\u2019s on a crowded commuter train or at the office, for most of us, headphones on means \u201cLeave me alone.\u201d Privacy is a rarity in the modern world. But is gaining the headspace we need to concentrate by popping in our earbuds isolating us too much? Countless studies tell us that listening to music while we work inhibits our ability to concentrate, while just as many contradictory studies tell us music improves our productivity by helping us to relax. Which is it, science? The answer is: it\u2019s an irrelevant question. Whether music is good for us or not is a moot point. Most of us put our headphones on or our earbuds in to block out other sounds and interruptions. We\u2019re not listening to music so much as not listening to our coworkers. In an October 2017 article in The Telegraph, futurologist Nicola Millard is quoted as saying: \u201cThe trouble with open-plan offices is they are a one-size-fits-all model which actually fits nobody \u2026 We\u2019re interrupted every three minutes. It takes us between eight and 20 minutes to get back into that thought process.\u201d A 2013 study conducted by the University of Sydney surveyed more than 40,000 people in 303 office buildings across Canada, the United States, Finland and Australia. Nearly half (48%) of respondents in non-partitioned open offices and 59% in spaces with cubicles complained about the lack of noise privacy. That\u2019s the irony of the open office. It\u2019s a design meant to facilitate communication and interaction that instead inspires many of us to devise ways to escape the noise of our coworkers so we can get our work done. Whether you\u2019re in a new-fangled open-concept office or an old-school one with cubicles \u2014 and we all know those cattle stall partitions don\u2019t block the sound of a sneeze but rather just isolate us without providing any of the benefits of a private office \u2014 the majority of us work in spaces that can be defined as open. Earphones seem like a necessary evil. Sure, they reduce the opportunity for the kind of spontaneous collaboration open offices are meant to encourage, but a lot of us can\u2019t get our work done without them. So, what\u2019s the solution? Don\u2019t wear your earphones all the time. Or better yet, take short breaks to socialize. There\u2019s a reason tech start-ups have things like arcade machines, basketball courts and cafeterias \u2014 and it\u2019s not to facilitate the laziness of young people. It\u2019s to create spaces for people to interact and talk \u2014 like a water cooler, only more fun. Wear your earphones when you need to, but remember to carve time out of the day for water cooler (or arcade machine) moments.