28Feb

Music to our ears: Should we listen to music in the office?


listening to music at workFew things can start a debate in the office like whether or not to play music. Turn on the radio and see what happens – you’ll either see ears pricking up happily, or irritated frowns. For many, music has motivational benefits that can boost productivity, and for others it serves merely as a nuisance and distraction. Which side are you on? And can a few tunes in the workplace work for you?

According to figures from researchers Music Works For You, 88% of participants in a study found that they worked more accurately while listening to music. An overall 65% of businesses believe music increases productivity in the workplace.

These findings show the rising acceptance of how music can add value to the mood and wellbeing of staff as well as developing a positive office culture that in turn produces results.

CONS:

Kisstory or Heart FM?
It’s often very difficult to find music to play in the office that everybody will like, and even though classical is considered more relaxing for productivity, it’s not to everyone’s taste! Neither is ambient chill, smooth ballads or jazz.

Any wildly differing opinions in taste can cause unnecessary tensions. Also, there can be a generation gap between younger and older colleagues, meaning that certain music tastes won’t appeal to everyone.

Colleague-isolating headphones
Building teams is about bonding, so the prospect of colleagues retreating under their Beats to listen to their own music in the office can create an isolating work culture. This inhibits socialising, which can be counter-productive in getting teams to work together to achieve goals.

Added distraction
Whilst it can be argued that music can serve as a positive distraction from all the office mayhem, many still argue that even background music can be counter-productive to work and can add to the intrusion of ‘other’ negative background noises. This is why others still argue that music can still be a negative distraction rather than be being perceived as relaxing.

PROS:

Musical motivation
In the same way that people find music at the gym an incentive to go that extra mile, more and more people find that music motivates them in the office to perform better in their roles.

Music helps with boosting energy and mood levels, even to do repetitive tasks, and establishes a positive working rhythm to get things done.

Distraction from distractions
Offices can be noisy environments. Colleagues speaking loudly, the rattling and clanging of office equipment, ringing phones or even noisy keyboard thumping (there’s always one!) can deter us from focusing at the job at hand.

Listening to your music on your headphones can help put you in the zone to work efficiently whilst drowning out the distractions.

Classical music has often been identified as having calming influences on our mindset, and can even improve our attentiveness on completing tasks in a relaxed atmosphere.

Similarly – and everything is a matter of preference – an upbeat pop track can be just as relaxing as a classical track when it comes to concentration.

Creates a positive work culture and environment
Music can go a long way to establish a positive and lively work culture. It builds a real sense of harmony and community, boosts morale and confidence and makes people feel more productive.

When colleagues enjoy being in the office and feel they can get away from any negative distractions, it could have a positive impact on attendance.

How to make music in your office work for you
Think of the kind of energy you’re looking to cultivate. Looking after a young, high-energy sales team? Then play upbeat, just-aggressive-enough pop, rock, hip hop, R&B and dance hits. Got a creative or technical team under your wing? Lots of ambient instrumental beats, jazz, classical, experimental stuff works well.

If your team can agree on a station, go for it. If you like the open and democratic approach, let your team create their own Spotify playlists – this works well during calendar events, as you can create any theme you like.

Be mindful of open-plan offices if you’re playing music out loud. Visitors and clients should be able to move through the office without feeling like they’re in the middle of a soundclash – but they’ll be reassured to see a busy, happy environment. You’ll feel good because you work in one.

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