Do you listen to music at work? A recent study suggests that you might be doing more than just drowning out your neighbor’s incessant chatter. You could be relieving stress, boosting productivity, and even improving your mood, all of which can make you a better, happier, more efficient worker. If you still need to convince the boss that you’re not goofing off every time you don those headphones, consider the facts.
The study, conducted by Teresa Lesiuk for Psychology of Music focused on computer information systems developers, which would appear to be the perfect test group. Lesiuk measured the effects of music on “quality of work and time-on-task,” and found an increase in both, as well as overall improvement in productivity. Participants also reported that music listening helped with relaxation, as well as “getting around blocks.
Beyond the focusing benefits, employees appear to be able to work faster, with a more positive mood and more productive results. If you’ve ever worked in an open-office environment, you know how it can be: humming, whispering, clicking of keys, and squeaking. Every noise may seem designed to irritate and distract you. So, research indicating that as much as 65% of business workers and 73% of warehouse workers are more productive when listening to music is tantalizing.
So, how do you harness the power of music to improve your working environment and the results you achieve?
1. Get permission.
Although studies have shown the positive effects of music in the workplace, not all employers are convinced. There’s the perception of laziness, which may relate to a negative past experience for the boss. So, it’s better to check in with your boss to make sure it’s OK.
2. Set the tone.
Different types of music affects you in specific ways. It’s important to test your music selection, pay close attention to how it influences you. Your favorite music may not be the best to listen to at work, because it may distract you.
3. Nix the lyrics.
Every music lover/listener is different, but if you’re hoping to maximize your productivity, you should consider tunes without lyrics. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but lyrics can be more of a distraction. You might be tempted to sing (or hum) along, which can be annoying to others in your work environment.
4. Get social.
Although you may be tempted to geek out, turn up the music, and tune out the others around you, it’s also important that you come up for air periodically. Demonstrate that you’re a team player, that you’re ready and willing to collaborate for the common organizational goal.
5. Schedule it.
While your job may not be conducive to full-time listening, you may find great benefit by taking musical interludes. Schedule a few times during the day when you will check email, work in the database, or perform similar tasks. The idea is that these tasks are probably not collaborative, nor are they phone related; so you can quickly complete the tasks.
While we often think of music as entertainment — an enjoyable pastime — studies now demonstrate how essential it is the a worker’s productivity and well-being. It’s able to improve our mood, and even inspire better ideas.