5 benefits of listening to music at work



Music in the workplace – is it a great idea or a terrible one?

If you have ever tried to get a car full of people to agree on a playlist, you can imagine that opinions are divided. Research shows that a lot of people find listening to music at work helpful – at least if they can choose when to listen to it.

But what about you? Find out if music could help you with our new quiz “The Sound of Productivity” and discover below the top 5 reasons why people listen to music in the office.

1. Relaxation

Music at work can contribute to relaxation by channelling your stress and negative emotions, and can remind you of not being at work. It can also provide a mini-break from being mentally active and allow you rest and recover. In this sense, music can create a sense of well-being in offices by putting employees in a good mood.

2. Concentration

Music can aid your concentration by suppressing distractions around the office. Some people experience these effects when they do simpler tasks, but it could also help when doing more complex work. You can control your soundscape in the office and replace external interruptions with sounds of your choice (more on this in reason 4).

3. Emotional management

Music can be inspirational; it can encourage thoughts and motivate you. It can act as a stress reliever and be a‘fellow sufferer’ in a public space, where it might not be appropriate to act out all your frustrations. It can also provide a sense of company when your working space is too quiet or empty.

4. It blocks out distractions

Being able to block out distractions can be a way to cope with stress, as it gives you more control over your environment. Headphones in particular help to improve concentration in two ways.

5. It creates variation and helps you think about something else

Music can provide you with a diversion so you don’t engage in other distracting behaviours. It’s a strategy to manage internal interruptions like daydreams or thoughts that could make you lose your flow. It might also stop you from doing other unproductive things like browsing the internet or chatting with colleagues.

The history of music and working

Listening to music while working is by no means a new innovation. Songs, for a long time helped people synchronise their movements and made the day go quicker. In the 1930s, recorded music was often used in factories to improve productivity and reduce boredom and fatigue.

Today, technology has made it easier to listen to your own music at work. Many employees have access to music through MP3 players, smartphones and via the internet, and can make choices about what to listen to that previously would not have been possible.

Does it always work?

Academic research shows that listening to music at work can help improve your mood, relax you and make you feel happier. However, it can have its drawbacks, too. Loud music can irritate your co-workers and headphones can isolate you from your team, which is not always a good thing.

Generally, it’s most beneficial when you have control over what you are listening to. If music is forced upon people, it can be irritating and annoying, and we know from research that office noise can have severe negative effects on employee health, well-being and productivity.

But when employees can have control over when, where and what they listen to, music can clearly bring about real benefits to individual employees, and ultimately to the company.