A lot of people have been working from home since March last year. Something we figured out pretty quickly: If you work remotely, a reliable pair of headphones is an essential part of your setup. How else will you drown out neighborhood noise, especially considering everyone else is home too? So, if you’re thinking about upgrading to a new headset, or maybe you want to buy a pair, this list will steer you towards the best headphones for work.
A good pair of work-at-home headphones combine sound quality and comfort, of course. You’ll be wearing them for hours at a time while you’re trying to concentrate. But you also want to hone in on what makes a good communication headset when making calls, which includes any sort of video chats. For many folks, that means being able to hear your own voice in the room, instead of the odd “earplugs” sensation that most in-ear or earbud headphones provide. If that’s important to you, you want to make sure your headphones have either a sidetone or transparency feature. Lastly, good battery life is a must, as is the ability to switch easily between two devices, aka multi-device pairing.
We’ve included some UC headphones on this list of the best headphones for work, but the majority of these are mainstream “consumer” headphones that also work well on the go.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its QuietComfort 35 II models, may not be a quantum leap forward but these Bose headphones offer slightly better sound, call, and noise cancellation quality. Alas, this wireless headphone option costs $380 to buy, but they’re a strong all-around audio performer with up to 20 hours of battery life.
They’re also now available in a UC version that includes a Bose USB Bluetooth link module for pre-pairing with PCs. That model, Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 UC is Microsoft Teams-certified.
Jabra Elite 45h
Released in mid-2020, the Jabra Elite 45h was essentially billed as the best on-ear headphone for the money. While there’s nothing terribly fancy about it is one of the best on-ear headphone values right now, with good sound quality, a sturdy design, and a comfortable fit. Battery life is also good and it has multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect to both your computer and your smartphone at the same time and easily switch between the two should a call come in on your phone (it mostly works). Available in multiple color options, it lists for $100 but frequently gets discounted to $80.
AfterShokz has turned its Aeropex ($160) bone-conduction headphones into a more communications-friendly headset with an integrated boom microphone. Since these leave your ears open, they aren’t for people who want to seal their ears out from outside noise. Rather, the idea is that you can hear everything around you without having anything covering your ears or jammed inside them. Some find folks find that liberating.
These also have multipoint-Bluetooth pairing, so you can pair them with your phone and PC and easily switch to your phone if a call comes in while you’re on your computer.
As long as you don’t mind the book microphone, you can use the OpenComm for sporting activities as well. The Aeropex and other AfterShokz headphones are favorites for runners who want to keep their ears open to hear the outside world for safety reasons. They’re also water-resistant. The only downside is they require a proprietary charging cable instead of USB-C. Battery life is rated at 16 hours of talk time and eight hours of listening time.
Epos/Sennheiser Adapt 660
This enterprise-level model from Epos is essentially a souped-up version of the Sennheiser PXC 550 with superior telephony and PC connectivity. It’s comfortable and has excellent noise-canceling. The voice performance is top-notch and it’s Microsoft Teams certified. Battery life is rated at 30 hours, which is very good. The only downside is that it still uses Micro-USB instead of USB-C for charging (the new Sennheiser PXC 550 II has USB-C). While its list price is $400, you can pick it up for closer to $250.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
Samsung’s Buds Plus look essentially the same as the original Galaxy Buds, but their battery life is rated at 11 hours for music playback (up from 6), and they pack dual drivers for better sound and an additional microphone in each bud to help with external noise reduction while making calls. Previously, this pair of headphones was more geared toward Android users (and Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners in particular), but now there’s an iOS app that gives Apple users most of the same features as Android users.