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Wearing earbuds at work used to be a bit of a rare occurrence. After all, if you worked in an open-concept office space (remember those?), you needed to be able to hear if a colleague asked you a question, and you’d never have them in your ears during a meeting. But now, of course, they’re a more common 9-to-5 accessory than ever. If you’re working from home or you and your partner have to join Zoom meetings at the same time at home, it’s a good idea to invest in a new pair of earbuds that can easily connect to your work devices and handle all your virtual tasks throughout the day, without disturbing others in the room.
How to Pick the Best Earbuds for Work
If you’re looking for a good pair of wireless earbuds for work, we’ve rounded up everything you should know about buying the best buds for the office, wherever that may be.
Battery Power: Ever been in the middle of a presentation wearing buds that are on their last leg? Yeah, not a good situation to be in. The earbuds on our list all boast last-all-afternoon runtimes for seamless calls and more. For this buying guide, we also looked for earbuds that can charge quickly in case you forget to put them back in a charging case or recharge them before you get back to your desk.
Microphones: If you’re going to wear earbuds during a meeting, you’re going to need solid built-in mics so your coworkers can clearly hear what you’re saying. There’s no shortage of great headphones with microphones we’d wear at the office, but today’s latest earbuds also come with multiple mics, designed to sound better despite your buds’ smaller size. We also prefer wearing earbuds during work because they’re often easier to quickly remove than over-ear headphones.
Sound: The earbuds below come with exceptional speakers that check all the work-day boxes, whether you’re trying to tune out distractions with music in your cubicle, or receive important feedback about an upcoming project from a client during your afternoon WFH Zoom meetings.
Connectivity: In our research for this guide, we chose earbuds that wirelessly pair via Bluetooth for a quicker and easier connection at work, whether you’re completing a project from your phone, desktop or laptop.
Comfort: Comfortable office earbuds are easier to come by these days, and they’re especially good to have if you’ll use them for the duration of your work day. From form-fitting buds to a larger variety of ear tip sizes, it’s easier than ever to find a pair that won’t irritate your ears, letting you focus on your work without becoming an uncomfortable distraction.
What Are the Best Earbuds for the Office?
The best earbuds for work feature built-in microphones for calls and meetings, along with ergonomic features that make them so comfortable, you might almost forget you’re even wearing them. Here are a few of our favorite work earbuds to help you have a more productive day at the office from brands like Bose, Sony and Apple.
1. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
After hours and hours of testing, the Bose QuietComforts are our favorite earbuds for work. They’re completely wireless, noise-cancelling, comfortable, easy to control with just a tap and, most importantly, sound really damn good. You can summarize it like this: Buy them now.
2. JBL Club Pro+ Earbuds
JBL’s earbuds pack practically every feature you could want in a set of earbuds for the office. From their adaptive noise-cancelling technology, to the eight-hour battery per charge (and a total 24-hour battery with their case, which you can set on a wireless charging pad), these buds can do it all, save for doing anything about those meetings that could’ve been a quick email.
Three mics inside deliver seamless, clear calls for both you and your coworkers, so you never lose any important info when you’re chatting with someone, even if you’re commuting. Plus, you can adjust how your music sounds with JBL’s My Headphones app, too. Taking calls is easy with just a tap on the side of the buds.
And if you’re worried about the fit of your earbuds, JBL’s addressed that head-on with these Bluetooth earphones. They come with three different tips, and you can use the brand’s app for what it calls a “Seal Check,” which will signal whether you’re wearing the best tips for your ears.
3. Apple AirPods Pro
It might seem like everyone you know, coworkers included, own Apple’s AirPods Pro — and we can understand why. The sleek buds are noise-cancelling, which make them exceptional for clearly hearing your music when you’re on your commute or waiting for the train. They also have a Transparency mode that makes sure you can hear if your manager’s talking to you at the office.
But they’re also excellent work-from-home buds, especially if you use Apple products for work, from your desktop to your iPhone.
Like JBL’s earbuds, above, you can choose among three silicone tips to find a size that works best, something that we wish older versions of the AirPods included (and another reason to finally upgrade). Apple also made sure they’re sweat-resistant, so you can wear them for your workouts or during hot summer commutes on your bike.
The bottom line: They’re the kind of earbuds you’ll still want in your ears even when you clock out for the day. And we suggest buying them now, while they’re still in stock.
4. Jabra Elite 85t Wireless Earbuds
Jabra’s Elite 85t earbuds are some of the best all-around buds for music, daily use and workouts. We recently named them the best running earbuds in our first-ever Rolling Stone Audio Awards. And while they’re awesome for runners, they also have some serious digital endurance for a full day sitting at your desk or for work trips.
Teamed up with their case, they’re nearly unstoppable and can run you 25 hours overall, meaning you can stash them in your desk drawer and use them throughout the work week for all your meetings, or, once you’re signed off for the weekend, up to 5.5 hours of noise-cancelling music on a charge.
They’re ideal professional buds for meetings when you can’t use your computer or laptop’s speakers thanks to six built-in microphones, which will easily pick up your voice but block out things like the wind — something no one wants to hear in the background during a group call. Google Assistant and Siri are accessible with the 85ts in your ears, too, which makes checking up on your schedule a cinch.
5. Sony WF-1000XM4 True Wireless Earbuds
Sony’s newly released wireless earbuds are among our editors’ favorites because of their clear, balanced sound quality and their eight-hour runtime with noise-cancelling settings turned on. While they’re fit for use at home or on the commute, they also sound great even when on flights. They feature a built-in bone conduction sensor which makes sure everyone can hear clearly on work calls. These buds are also water-resistant and they’re compatible with Amazon’s Alexa digital voice assistant.