Practical implications and future studies

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To cite or reference this content, please use the following reference:

Haake, A. B. (2010). Music listening in offices: Balancing internal needs and external considerations (Doctoral thesis, University of Sheffield, Sheffield) accessed from www.musicatwork.net

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There are a number of suggestions for future research, based on the findings and also on the limitations of the current research. An important aspect of considering the implications of this research is evaluating the potential implications it might have for employees, managers and companies.

1. The benefits of own music control

Firstly, managers can benefit from recognising the importance of employees being able to select their own music. There are many positive benefits to employees choosing music they like. There were few reports of manager-imposed music in offices in this research, which is positive, given the many negative impacts of imposed music (stress, anxiety, irritation, staff conflicts). More common were reports of colleagues listening irresponsibly and imposing music onto colleagues, and this should be of interest to managers in particular, as it can impact individual performance as well as team functioning.

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2. Music access and storage

In the research, it was found that the IT staff had concerns about music access in offices, at least regarding digital music listening through computers. IT staff as well as employees felt that the rules and policies relating to music listening at work were vague, and music was often seen as a “grey area”. Given that IT managers are legally responsible for the computers and networks within the company and different music software and listening devices are continually being developed, it would be advisable for them to review their policies on music, evaluate their approach and offer advice for their employees.

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3. Education and development of policies

Music listening and listening patterns are currently being discussed and debated. However, this is mainly happening in internet forums, and company representatives are not usually a part of the debate. There could be scope for education, and the development of a code of practice within the companies and organisations. These discussions would benefit from including balanced accounts of positive and negative aspects of listening in office environments. It would be useful to distinguish irresponsible listening from responsible listening, and make employees aware of the negative effects of imposed music. It may be beneficial to offer non-listening employees the opportunity to try listening to music at work, and for everyone to agree on what is acceptable listening behaviour.

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4. Other cultures, technologies and work environments

  • Countries outside of UK and non-Western cultures
  • The role of particular listening technologies, as well as their relation to IT security
  • Other work environments: previous research has often focused on industrial workplaces, and a few studies have up until this point studied music in offices

Very little research has been carried out into the effects of music on employees in the retail sector. The research efforts to date in this area have almost exclusively focused on the effects on customers in retail environments. The music in some retail environments is imposed, particularly in chain stores, but little is known about how this imposed music is experienced by workers in the stores. One person in the survey study also worked part-time in a large UK supermarket. He said:

At Christmas we get the same 3 Christmas CDs over and over for the full 9 hour shift… torture!! I’m sure there’s a human rights cruelty issue here…

This could provide a starting point for research into how music affects the employees in retail environments. Even though customer behaviour and spending may be the most direct route to finding out about financial benefits or drawbacks in the retail industry, effects on employees may indirectly influence these aspects through customer service behaviour, mood and helpfulness. If music affects employees negatively, there may also be other financial drawbacks, such as high staff turnover costs, low morale and effectiveness, high absenteeism through sickness, and other health issues. By considering the beneficial effects of music at work, and minimising the negative ones, music can continue to perform an important role in the everyday lives of employees.

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2 Responses to Practical implications and future studies

  1. Somwell Kortess says:

    The McDonald’s in the middle of Oak Cliff in Dallas, Texas plays a mismatched selection of music, incompatible with the majority of its customers and staff. Unfortunately this practice is too common in this area of the U.S.  Today, Dec. 9, 2015, all diners and staff present were Mexican or African American, but the white country singer loudly dreamt of white Christmases, which we southerners are not familiar with, so not particularly enamored of. I actively avoid these places because of the high annoyance factor. I submit that it is cruel enough to inflict that on customers, but verges on abuse of staff who must tolerate it day in and out. It surely must discourage other customers from coming here, so bad for business.

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