Amidst widespread quarantines and lockdowns, more people than ever started telecommuting, connecting with clients and colleagues alike from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Even once we've finally developed a vaccine and it's safe to once more go out in public, that's unlikely to change.

Working from home is easy. It's convenient. It's efficient.

It lets allows people to set their own hours. It allows businesses to access a larger talent pool than would otherwise be possible. It allows businesses to save on office space and office supplies and promotes new workflows and modes of collaboration. 

It also presents myriad challenges for the hearing impaired. They must contend with a lack of captions, people not waiting their turns to speak, a lack of video chat, poor quality audio, and headsets that don't play nice with hearing aids, to mention just a few. On top of that, there's evidence that if you're not careful, telecommuting could actually damage your hearing, as well.

It all comes down to your headphones.

See, if you're working from home, chances are good that you're in close proximity to your family, especially now. In order to ensure privacy and help you focus, you'll likely invest in a headset of some kind. Not only will this help ensure no one in your house will overhear any sensitive conversations, but it also blocks out ambient, distracting noise.

The problem is that the human ear simply isn't made to have sound piped directly into it for long periods of time, especially if you're smashing loud music into your eardrums. This problem is only further amplified by earbuds, which funnel sound directly into the ears without giving them any chance of reprieve. As noted by the research agency The Hearing Health Foundation, earbuds carry with them a high risk of causing hearing damage, and overuse of headphones has been directly linked to noise-induced hearing loss.

So what can you do? How can you keep working from home without running the risk of hearing damage? Per tech publication CNet, a few things

  • Keep the volume as low as you can without making it difficult to hear what's going on. You might also consider setting a volume limit. 
  • Don't use earbuds. Invest in a high-quality headset. 
  • Use noise-canceling headphones so you don't need to crank things up to drown out external noise.
  • Take frequent breaks, five minutes every 30 minutes or 10 minutes every hour. 

Admittedly, the actual risk of noise-induced hearing loss associated with telecommuting is relatively low. Still, it's not zero percent. If you aren't careful, you might find yourself suffering from hearing impairment sooner rather than later.

Follow the advice laid out here, though, and you should be just fine.