Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Monday, November 30, 2015


Should employees or contractors be allowed to listen to music while working? Some of the music has been offensive and the employees were warned that they are prohibited from listening to music with profanity. Some employees say they are more productive when listening to music, others say it violates their privacy.


Part of a custodianís responsibility is building security as well as safety (including the individualís). Listening to loud music often impedes the ability to hear other folks in the vicinity (someone calling out for help, for instance), plus it may prevent the custodian from hearing a fire alarm or other type of disaster alert. If someone is summoning the custodian from the office (even in the evening), the custodian may not hear the signal. My recommendation is to discourage a custodian from listening to music when working alone. In a team setting, or when stripping and refinishing a large floor with several custodians working together, playing non-offensive music may be permissible. Then you have the issue of what is non-offensive and what if each cleaner likes a different type of music. There is also the publicís perception to be considered. When custodians listen to music, observers may interpret that behavior as less than professional, leading to inattention that results in inefficient service. The only way to avoid the issue entirely is to have a written "no music policy" that is explained during the hiring process. Then all you have to do is be willing to enforce it.
Perry Shimanoff