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Welcomed …But Not with Headphones
|by Ellen Higgins
|"If a man does not keep
pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different
drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far
away." – Henry David Thoreau, Conclusions
the Co-op welcomes people who follow a different drummer, it doesn't
welcome listening and communication devices, particularly on its
The Co-op, by offering low cost natural and organic food for all sorts
of dietary needs, strives to be an inclusive community based on
cooperative principles, a place where customers, members and staff can
step to the music they hear. However, wearing headphones or earphones
tends to distract, even isolate, the user, preventing effective
communication, including safety messages.
When member workers use these devices while working, it makes it
difficult for them to meet one of the Co-op's highest priorities, which
is the proper treatment of customers. If workers are distracted or
absorbed by the music or communication they are listening to, they will
not be able to respond quickly to the needs of shoppers. It is hard to
be friendly and courteous if the worker doesn't notice the customer or
other workers--at least immediately, and it certainly doesn't convey a
sense of respect and attentiveness.
Moreover, basic communications about safety are hindered. When workers
are absorbed in listening to music, they have not only effectively
tuned out their surroundings, but they also block out other sounds.
They may not hear the warnings of fellow workers who notice an unsafe
situation or who are working nearby or are crossing their paths. If the
worker wearing headphones never receives the message, then an accident
or disaster could occur. For instance, someone was recently carrying
products into a cooler while a member worker listening to an MP3 player
was backing out with a cart. The worker didn't hear the warning, but
continued towards collision, clueless to the potential hazard.
The use of cell phones or other PDAs for personal calls and texting
poses similar dangers, but also cause interruptions and reduce the time
worked. This is both counterproductive and a kind of theft of time.
Member workers are there to put in their work hours, to make a
contribution to the Co-op for the discounts they receive. Spending work
time on personal business interferes with getting the work done. Though
member workers are entitled to taking appropriate breaks and occasional
personal calls, these should be kept to a minimum. In addition, more
and more studies are appearing about how multitasking may seem more
efficient on the surface, but may actually take more time in the end;
multitasking has been shown to slow down performance and actually makes
us less efficient--not good for getting the work done at the Co-op.
We would like to continue to make working as well as shopping at the
Co-op a pleasurable experience. So leave your music players and cell
phones and similar devices at the door when you check into work (and
even shop). Enjoy the cooperative community of workers and shoppers,
focus on the task at hand--doing the job while providing services to
customers and fellow members and while contributing to a safe and
effective workplace. In this way, we can promote both professionalism
and the community values of the Co-op.
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