Friday, March 11, 2016

Work Environment: Listening to Music

What’s your take on listening to music at work?  I generally don’t listen to music while working but, according to research, perhaps I should.

Here’s the upshot:  Music can help lift your mood.  A good mood has a positive effect on your work. 

To achieve this effect, you should aim for music that puts you in a “mild positive” mood (I guess being “wildly ecstatic” must be too distracting).   A “mild positive” mood is conducive to creativity because it allows your thoughts to be more expansive and influences how your brain organizes thoughts; by negative inference, it must also mean that you’re not overly stressed.  Being stressed can lead to errors.

The idea that music can help maintain a positive mood and relieve stress is not a newsflash to anyone.  But the degree to which music is effective in the workplace is correlated with whether the listener prefers that particular type of music.  This also seems like a no-brainer, but I have a personal example of why you may not want to start blasting everyone’s favorite radio station over the loudspeakers.  As a former classical musician, I obviously like classical music.  Do I listen to classical music while working?  No, for the same reason that some other people don’t listen to music with lyrics while working—because I get too “involved” and get distracted.

Since it can be a fine line between being in a “mild positive” mood and being distracted, for maximum effectiveness, people have to be allowed to choose their own “productive” music.  For me (and I’m not alone), my music of choice is either monastic silence or maybe nature sounds like “bubbling brook” or “whispering wind.”  For purposes of science, however, I’m willing to give it another shot and do some more musical explorations.  Apparently, video game music is a good one to try.   

If your job environment doesn’t allow for personalized music choices, take heart: any type of music can be effective in boosting efficiency—even when it’s competing with noise from machinery.

Many workplaces have embraced the idea that ergonomics improve productivity.  Consider whether music can do the same for your business.

1 comment :

  1. aren't you still a classical musician, just not a professional one? I never had even a dream of a music profession, but certainly consider myself a classical musician, even if I've forgotten how to play the upright piano in my storage unit, waiting for a move into a larger apt.