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News   - 02/07/2007

Invasion of the iPods: at work, at home, at heart...

Hey . . . Hey . . . HEY! You in the cubicle there.
Take out those iPod earbuds and listen up.
These gadgets have made click wheels in the workplace as common as Starbucks coffee.

Employers report that employees are increasingly plugging in the ubiquitous white earbuds, able to tune out co-workers, ignore bosses and pretend they are somewhere else as they enter data to "Fanfare for the Common Man."

Judging by the drooling over Apple Inc.'s new iPhone, there's a whole new wave of little handhelds about to invade workplaces. The devices, costing $499 and $599 and set to arrive in June, have reignited the debate over what role, if any, MP3 players have in the workplace.

A Harris Interactive poll indicated that 32 percent of workers nationally used some kind of music-listening device.
Nearly 80 percent thought it improved their satisfaction and/or productivity.

Cardiovascular surgeon Grayson Wheatley III promotes the use of iPods in his clinic and practice at the Arizona Heart Institute in Phoenix.

"We use iPods to deliver important medical information to patients in the waiting room and offices," he said. "We allow patients and employees to listen or view medical information which has been pre-loaded onto video iPods. Instead of reading an out-of-date magazine, patients can be updated on the latest cardiovascular information for preventing and treating cardiovascular disease."

He also encourages employees to develop new uses for iPods to help make their jobs easier.

"iPods are not a distraction but a powerful educational tool," he said. "I believe that even when used for listening to music at work, the iPods offer improved patient and employee satisfaction."

The Moses Anshell marketing agency in Phoenix has a "resident DJ" who "spins" tunes to set the workday's mood by picking songs from a library of more than 13,000 tunes.

"Basically, one of the requirements when being hired at Moses Anshell is that you better be able to handle the constant tunes we have going on here every day, especially since we have a gigantic speaker system in the middle of the office specifically for the iPod," spokesman Ryan La Rosa said.

But not everyone believes the iPod in the workplace is a positive development. Some argue that employees waste time and block open communication by putting those conspicuous white headphone buds in their ears.

Robin Craig, a personal-branding expert based in Scottsdale, Ariz., offers the following etiquette when using an iPod at work:

# Assuming your company allows iPods, let your colleagues know you're turning it on to work.

# If anyone in your workplace approaches you, always take out the earbuds from both ears, even if your iPod is off. Anyone you have a conversation with deserves respect.

# No singing, head popping or taking your iPod to meetings.

# Be aware of your iPod's volume. If you're unsure about the noise level, remove the earbuds and cover them with your thumbs. You should barely be able to hear the music.

Source: The Marion Star    
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