I'm wondering if it is okay for an employee-- while on the clock-- to listen to audiobooks, podcasts, TV shows (audio only) or other spoken word content while doing their work? We all handle some repetitious work on auto-pilot, like brushing our teeth, or vacuuming, mowing the lawn, or stuffing envelopes. In these cases, I don't consider spoken-word audio a distraction.
But if someone is doing analytical work or drafting a communication, or developing code, I wonder. Is it even possible for us to give our best to the work when part of our attention is captured by the story-line fed into our ear buds?
How would you deal with this? What are the principles and assumptions that back up your decision?