There’s been a lot of intra-office chatter just lately about how to best enjoy music here in the office without:

  1. Having to worry about it too much (most people prefer random play, or at least play controlled by someone else)
  2. Stepping on anyone’s toes by distracting them from their work or forcing them to hear music they don’t like
  3. Sounding like a frat-house when you call in to our help desk 🙂

The natural solution was for one person to step into the role of “office DJ” and just keep the music coming. As our web software company grows, though, the situation becomes more complicated. Our beautiful new sun-drenched office high atop Chicago’s Michigan Avenue has a very open floorplan, meaning that sound travels far and wide. Plus, bringing in new people means different tastes and styles of work.
The immediate solution has been to just have everybody listen to what they want through headphones. This generally works well, but tends to reduce social contact and also to violate worry #1 (above): making people think about what they’re going to listen to next. Some folks have even been calling for an audio router of some sort (does such a thing even exist?) which many pairs of headphones could be plugged into so we could all listen to whatever was playing.
Another idea has been to pipe in some form of music throughout the whole office. Of course, the problem with this is that the music is going to have to tend to be pretty bland in order to sound okay when overheard by customers and also not disgust or enrage the intra-office listening public.

My latest hare-brained scheme has been to set up a copy of Ampache on my local machine. I figure this will add back in a little bit of sociality into music-listening as we all see what other people are listening to and rate songs and whatnot, while still keeping the office quiet and letting everybody hear what they want. Looks like a pretty good system so far.
I’m interested to hear how others out there are handling their office music situations. Democratically? Autocratically? Technocratically? CD-by-CD rotation? (what if someone selected Slipknot or something? ugh.) In-cubicle decibel readings?