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How Music Affects Productivity In Offices And Causes... Oh, What A Song!

When it comes to playing music in the office employees are usually torn, as some find having background noise calming therefore allowing them to concentrate, whereas other employees think the total opposite and see music as an unnecessary distraction. Many offices ask the question; does music affect your concentration? There is no definitive answer to this question as it all depends on the individual.

Studies have shown that music can increase (and also decrease) productivity, however it is all depending on the person and the type of music you are listening to, so here’s how music affects productivity.

Music Interferes With Learning

When it comes to learning new information, music can form a huge distraction. Music demands too much of your attention so when it comes to learning new things, the music can be overwhelming and you are often drawn in to humming the lyrics in your head, instead of  taking in the information that you require to learn a new skill or task.

There is no way around listening to music when it comes to learning, even if the music you are listening to includes little-to-no lyrics and the sounds are extremely subtle. Your mind cannot focus on these two things at once. This often leads to a decrease in productivity as the thing you require to complete certain tasks often goes missed, because you were too distracted and didn’t learn it when prompted.

Lyrics Are Very Distracting

Leisurely, rocking out to songs with lyrics can be fun and empowering. However, taking them same songs into the workplace can make writing a blog post (like this one) virtually impossible. By listening to music with lyrics, triggers the language centre of the brain otherwise known as the ‘Broca’s Area’, which essentially makes doing any other task that involves language extremely difficult.

I mean, have you ever been writing something down whilst a person is speaking - leading you to end up writing that word instead of the one you meant? Well, the same happens when you listen to music as your brain is focusing more on the lyrics of the song than what you are writing.

However, listening to music with lyrics whilst doing creative tasks has the opposite effect and can actually come across as beneficial. Graphic designers often enjoy listening to music whilst working as it relaxes them and allows them to concentrate more.

Creates Too Much Noise In The Workplace

If your office is generally noisy from things such as chit-chat amongst employees, the phone ringing, or the printer going off, trying to drown that out with music could create more noise than initially intended. Music is great at creating background noise in an otherwise quiet office where without it there would be complete silence, but using it to drown other noises out, doesn’t work.

If people are chatting, once the music starts playing they will subconsciously try to talk over the noise by raising the volume of their voices. As a result, instead of the music drowning the noise out it will contribute to even more noise. This could also lead to it being difficult to hear what fellow colleagues are saying leading to confusion, repeating of questions, and important information going amiss.

However in some workplaces, a radio playing creates a calm background  contributing to increased morale and productivity in the workplace. However as previously mentioned, everyone is different and can contribute to a torn workplace culture as a result. Torn offices often leads to a mismatch in both increases and decreases in terms of  productivity.

Music Can Create An Escape

If you work in a noisy office, trying to find an escape and block out the background noise can be difficult. The opportunity to plug in your headphones and listen to your favourite tunes, calming sounds, white noise or whatever else you fancy, is a great way to block out the noises going on within the office space. Another controversial but viable reason to use your headphones at work is that not many people will bother you leading to increased individual productivity, but potential bottlenecks in group projects through loss of communication (as it’s seen as polite “do not disturb” body language).

With all that said, if you all mutually agree that you enjoy the radio being on within the office it creates a positive attitude throughout all of the employees and stimulates creative ideas.

Music Improves Mood And Overall Wellbeing

A happy workforce creates a more productive workforce and studies have shown that listening to music releases dopamine in the same way it does when eating something delicious, looking at a beautiful view, or smelling a pleasant aroma. The dopamine puts you in a good mood and also relaxes you - therefore making you and your other colleagues happy.

Listening to music can be done through headphones or a radio within the office, but no matter what it’s played through, it has positive effects on people - often resulting in an increase in productivity.

Listening to music has been related to employees completing tasks quicker and coming up with fresh new ideas. However different genres of music played, can work better or worse for different tasks so if you enjoy listening to music whilst completing tasks, you could be working better on some aspects whilst struggling on others due to what music you are playing, not the fact that you are.

Music Allows You To Stay Focused

It is extremely easy to lose concentration and get distracted by things within the office, especially when working in silence. Your mind can wander and before you know it, you are deep in thought about what you are going to cook once you’re home. It’s easy for your brain to wind-down but listening to music helps keep it active as it’s taking in the sounds and lyrics.

Whether you’re focusing on the task at hand and avoiding  the chatter, or you’re trying to avoid the silence within the office, music is a great way to accomplish that. For many offices, this s best done through headphones as you aren’t distracting (or being distracted) and you can play what you enjoy listening to, whether that’s indie, chart or heavy metal music, no one will know and you will stay focused on the task at hand.

You’ll always find that employees will enjoy working differently to others meaning finding a good balance can be difficult as you don’t want too much noise or the lack of noise affecting productivity. If you are an employee who enjoys listening to music, we advise you use headphones as this is a polite way to do what you enjoy without distracting others around you. The best way to get around this is by talking to your employees, you can discuss what the best options are in forming the perfect office culture.

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