Listening to music at work can help office workers to improve their mood, relax them and make them feel happier, according to a study recently published in the journal Musicae Scientiae. The survey of 300 people found that music could fulfil a range of important functions for employees, including providing relief from stress, and improving concentration. The most common reasons for listening to music at work were to improve mood and relax. Music could also help employees to engage in work tasks, through blocking out distracting noise in the office. Employees listened to all kinds of music at work. The most popular genres were classical, pop and rock, but classical music was not more relaxing at work, compared to other types of music.
New technology has made it easier to listen to your own music at work. Many employees have access to music in their offices through MP3-players and via the internet, whereas in the past employers had more control over what music (if any) to broadcast to everyone, for example in factories. “This change in music access at work, and the fact that employees today can choose their own individual music at any time, was what made me decide to look into the effects of music in offices”, said Dr Anneli B. Haake who conducted the study at University of Sheffield, UK.
However, the survey found that having music playing in the office had its drawbacks too. Loud music can irritate co-workers and headphones can isolate listeners from their team. “The most important thing is to have control over the music”, said Dr Haake. “If music is forced upon people, the music 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 to listen to, music can clearly bring about real benefits to individual employees, and ultimately to the company.”
“One really interesting thing for me was the way that listeners seemed to balance their individual music needs with the demands in the workplace”, said Dr Haake. “People were really careful about not disturbing each other, or appearing unprofessional in front of clients – or at least that’s what they told me!”.
The research suggests that companies who want a happier, more productive staff might do well to invest in a library of CDs, or other music listening solutions. “There are several options for music listening at work today, and many software solutions allow constructing and sharing of playlists”, said Dr Haake. “We know that listening to your own music makes people happy – and a happy worker is likely to be a more productive one”.
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