Music at Work - It's A Thing.

Issue # 
July 9, 2021

Do you wear headphones at work? If so, you’re part of the majority of both office and remote workers that find audio culture essential for conducting business. Most people wear headphones at work as a tool for privacy and communication during important business calls. But what you may not know is that nearly 80% of workers believe that music can help with their productivity -- and they’re right. Particularly as dispersed workforces and remote work become part of our new back-to-work normal, headphones are working harder for our mental health in buffering bothersome office noises, background chatter, or pet and child commotion when working from home. Once thought to be taboo, listening to music in headphones at work is becoming increasingly popular and accepted as people are relying on music to help drown out distractions, stay focused, and create a sense of privacy. This is especially true among the younger generations who grew up during the rise of music streaming services. While in the past it was argued that listening to music distracts from work and allows people to be off in their own world, research has found that the right kind of music is actually beneficial to productivity, accuracy, focus, and overall employee happiness. Sometimes, being in your own world is exactly where you need to be to buckle down and power through tasks.

If you are looking to boost your productivity, music in the office might be your perfect solution. Research shows that listening to music boosts productivity and accuracy for tasks like data entry, proofreading, and problem-solving. A study conducted by Mindlab International looked at participants’ speed and accuracy in completing online assessments both in silence and while different types of music played. They found that listening to music resulted in 81% of participants completing tasks faster and 88% of participants completing tasks more accurately compared to tasks performed in silence. In fact, results showed participants made the most mistakes for equation solving and spell-checking when music was not playing at all. In the end, ambient music was determined to be the best option to listen to, as it resulted in the highest accuracy during data entry tasks. Another study conducted by Cloud Cover Music surveyed over 1,000 employees and employers about music at work. They found that over 80% of participants listened to music while at work at least once a day, and 78% reported that they felt more productive when they had music playing.

While blocking out distractions and creating a focused environment are major reasons why music boosts productivity, there is another critical reason to call out. Music influences emotions and happiness, as well as increases productivity. The right kind of music can improve mood and reduce stress. Listening to upbeat music triggers a release of dopamine in the brain that creates a happy feeling and also signals the body to release the stress-fighting chemical cortisol. Calm positive-sounding music can have a stress-reducing effect on the mind and body and lower heartbeat and blood pressure. Happiness (and unhappiness) is contagious among coworkers, so using music to improve mood and reduce stress can go a long way for a company. Studies on worker happiness found that happy employees stay 4 times longer at a job, have 65% more energy, commit double the amount of time to complete tasks, and are 12% more productive than unhappy employees. If music leads to happier moods, and happier moods lead to more productive, engaged, creative, and motivated employees, it's in everyone's best interest to pop in some headphones at work.

There’s a complex set of considerations to consider when selecting optimal work music.  To start with some easy ones, a first rule of thumb is to listen to lyric-free music. Lyrics can distract from language-based tasks as they compete for your brain’s processing power. The worst music to listen to is unfamiliar songs that contain lyrics. Being unfamiliar with the lyrics causes the brain to try and multitask so it can decipher what is being said, breaking your concentration. The most beneficial music to listen to is upbeat or soothing instrumental music. Also, be mindful of music volume as that can be distracting to others that did not choose to have music playing.

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While the above list gives some high-level rules of thumb, finding the music that will make you and your office most productive and happy can be tricky because of the amount of personalization criteria needed to be effective. Luckily, Spiritune has an entire Work-Flow category that is scientifically designed to get you in the zone. Spiritune combines principles of neuroscience and music therapy to create music designed to reduce stress, regulate emotions and help you reach your specific goals. Each track is composed with a science-based calibration of musical characteristics to enhance and optimize the benefits of music by positively activating the brain. Spiritune helps you transition from your current emotional state to your desired emotional state with a personalized musical journey. To reduce stress at work, try the Anxious to Chill trajectory and select the Workflow category. 90% of users report that Spiritune has helped them reach their desired outcomes.

Headphones have become the new walls in open-concept offices, shared workspaces, and impromptu dining room table “desks." Music offers privacy, relieves tiredness, and most importantly, improves your feelings and productivity levels. While the mind can wander in silence, chatty co-workers can distract and loud office noises can pull you out of focus, music can be a powerful tool to lock in your flow state. It boosts overall happiness while cutting down stress, leading to a better workday. If you’re still skeptical, grab those headphones and try music as a work tool for yourself!

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