Should you be listening to music at work?

Mar 3, 2021 | General

There’s something about music that instinctively draws us in when we have work to do. The question of whether music is actually beneficial to our productivity levels is a bit of a grey area, but there’s definitely a case for turning on the tunes to get things going. Here’s a brief summary of what to consider before pressing play.

A happy worker is a good worker

It’s no secret that music has the power to put you in a more relaxed, happier state. When the feel-good juices are released into your brain this then has a flow on effect towards your creative problem-solving, and therefore productivity and efficiency.

This is partly because music helps our mind to wander, which may seem counter-intuitive, however sometimes the best ideas come from letting our heads get a bit lost and then letting ideas emerge from our subconscious.

Music can also relieve us from the relentless boredom that comes with consecutive hours of sitting in the same old chair staring at the same old screen.

This can be one of the biggest killers of motivation resulting in you looking at the clock slowly tick by rather than focusing on work. Having some background entertainment can help make the day flow a bit faster and smoother.

Man with headphones on looking at computer

Tune out, zone in

Putting on a pair of headphones is now the universal ‘do not disturb’ sign to those around you (at least those with social awareness).

This is why some even like to put in their Air pods without anything playing, as it’s an effortless and subtle way to tell people to leave you alone.

Even better, being immersed into one stream of music means less distraction from multiple outside noises.

This might not be a great thing if you enjoy eavesdropping on the latest updates on Susan’s love life, but if you really need to focus then tuning out the rest of the world is a good start.

Shake it out

creativity benefits of coworking

This one might be more relevant to those working at home by themselves, but there’s nothing like a dance break to get the blood flowing to the brain.

The right music can inspire you to get up and about, letting you shake out the physical and mental stiffness that comes with sitting at a computer all day.

So next time you’re feeling foggy, try turning the Tina Turner up and throw your limbs about for a few minutes and you’ll feel like a new person after.

You could try this in a communal office, but we can’t guarantee you won’t lose some friends. .

Good vs Bad Music

Despite these benefits, there’s a fine line between music helping you and interfering with information intake and recall.

Therefore, it might be best to take certain factors into consideration. First, the type of music that you listen to makes a big difference.

It’s been found that if you’re listening to music that suits your personal preferences and is familiar to you, then this is going to have a more positive effect.

On the other hand, music with a high volume or tempo aren’t ideal for a work environment. The same goes for music that’s heavy on the lyrics.

Other factors to consider

Man in suit listening to music standing against wall

The amount of control you have over the music playing is found to make a big difference. I think we can all agree that having your boss’s favourite jazz songs thrust upon you when you’re more of a lo-fi beats kind of person is a special type of torture.

Your personality type is another important factor to think about. It’s been found that music playing in the background can have much more of a potential to impact you negatively if you’re an introvert than an extrovert

The last thing to consider is the type of work that you’re doing. When it comes to manual labour or repetitive tasks that don’t require much concentration, you can go crazy with whatever music lifts your energy. It’s only when you need to focus on an unfamiliar or cognitively complex task that you might want to reconsider blasting your favourite Bruce Springsteen song.

So, should I ditch the earphones?

At the end of the day, it comes down to how you work as an individual and so it’s probably best to experiment with different music settings to see what works best for you.

If you don’t have control over the music that plays at your office, you might want to have a chat to your boss about it.

There’s also the option of listening to pump up music before work to get you in the mood but turning it off when the time comes to knuckle down.