Put your Music to Work

Businessman with headphones on

For a long time, music was thought to have been a hindrance to effective time utilization and completion of tasks. Listening to tunes at work was considered something no one did for fear of either getting fired or simply being unfocused.

However, the tables have turned. Music has been shown to increase focus, awareness, and even boost productivity in typical workplaces such as the office. Granted, tuning out to your favorite Taylor Swift song is not recommended for high customer interaction jobs such as McDonalds or Chipotle, but in the more traditional office settings, with often endless rows of busy-bees confined to cubicles, music can become a lifesaver and a productivity-booster.

According to FastCompany.com, a blog geared around operational management strategies, studies have shown that employees engaging in repetitive tasks can benefit greatly from listening to even the simplest songs at work. “The effects music can have in relation to repetitive tasks were further explored in this study, which showcased how assembly line workers displayed signs of increased happiness and efficiency while listening to music” (FastCompany).

Additionally, even articles by the New York Times vouch for music’s effectiveness in the workplace, “In one study involving information technology specialists, she found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood.” (NYTimes)

In an article by Time Magazine, music is cited as being a real help in recalling facts and boosting memory recognition: “Adults aged 18 to 30 were asked to recall a series of sounds presented in a particular order. Participants’ performance suffered when music was played while they carried out the task as compared to when they completed the task in a quiet environment. Nick Perham, the British researcher who conducted the study, notes that playing music you like can lift your mood and increase your arousal” (Time)

Although there have been many studies showing that music does help with employee satisfaction, happiness, and productivity in certain workplaces, how do you feel about allowing/using music in the workplace? Do you believe that there are instances where it should not be allowed? In what setting would you feel most comfortable allowing employees to listen to music? If not allowing employees the option to listen to their individual headphones, how else would you attempt to increase productivity at a workplace, if not by music?

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10 thoughts on “Put your Music to Work

  1. I enjoyed this post as I thought you touched on a really interesting and creative topic. I would certainly agree with the fact that music can add, not only to employee happiness and satisfaction, but productivity and creativity. This summer I interned at an accounting firm and was typically given busy work, as most interns are. I found that when I listened to music, I wasn’t as distracted by side conversations going on in the office and was able to work more efficiently. I do believe that there are instances where listening to music can be inappropriate or too loud for a workplace setting. My rule of thumb for myself was to keep the music in my headphones low enough to where I could hear my manager when they asked me a question or tried to talk to me. If music is so loud that people have to call your name a few times to get your attention, I think it can be a distraction. I think another key is to always communicate about listening to music and confirm with co-workers and managers that it is okay to do so.

    I typically feel comfortable with employees listening to music, as long as they are productive and are not distracted by it. I think music is a great way to help keep employees on task while allowing them more freedom and adding some fun to monotonous assignments. In my opinion, it is great that more companies are allowing employees to listen to music instead of looking at it as a complete waste of time.

  2. This was a really great post! I thought this subject was really relatable and interesting to see how it combines operational management and real-world business. I have found simply by doing homework that listening to music increases my productivity and makes boring tasks much more enjoyable. I would assume that it would have the same effect in a job. When I had my internship, my boss would often listen to music when he was performing his tasks. I think in certain desk jobs where one is working alone at a time, music should be allowed, especially if that individual knows it can increase their focus. In some instances, where you’re working on a team and communication is essential, then listening to music can make you seem closed off and probably should not be allowed. I think it greatly depends on the tasks of the job, but I think music is a great way to increase productivity and make the environment more fun.

  3. Great post in which i can relate. At my job, mitigation company, i found it useful to stay focused at the shop when listening to music. For us, being at the shop is a drag because all that is done is cleaning. However i have noticed that when music is playing on the radio everyone seems more active. However at customers houses it is unacceptable to listen to music because it would be considered rude and not appropriate.

  4. I really like this post. I know that I love listening to music whenever I’m doing homework or working on something. It helps me focus better and prevents me from getting distracted. I would also like to be able to listen to music while I’m working, because like I said it help me be more productive.

  5. This was a very interesting post. I think in many workplaces listening to music should be allowed. Since it helps increase productivity and helps workers focus I do not see it as distracting. In jobs were people often work in front of computer screens all day, listening to music can help them stay focused and motivated. As long as the job doesn’t require constant communication, enjoying music while working should always be allowed.

  6. Personally, I am okay with allowing music in the workplace. I think some people are more productive when they are listening to music. However, I think if one were to listen to music at the workplace, one should be able to listen to their music individually. I’m not a fan of listening to music as a group; people have different tastes in music and their productivity is dependent on what they like listening to. If I were in an office setting that constantly played country music, then a minuscule amount of work would be coming from my end of the workplace. I think there also should be a limitation on volume as well. Some people like quiet to work, whereas others use noise to their advantage. If music is not always an option, I personally would increase productivity just by allowing employees to work whichever way they felt more comfortable.

  7. As you mentioned, I believe music should only be allowed in certain work places. With customer interaction, having headphones in can be seen as disrespectful. From experience, when I do repetitive office work, listening to music puts me in the “zone”. Music can gain productivity in certain work places. I think in work places where there are interactions between employees and customers, music can be played in speakers. This can create a more relaxing type of environment. Great post!

  8. Awesome post! I agree that music has an effect on productivity for the workplace. However, depending on the circumstances, productivity could increase as much as decrease. As mentioned, in certain job tasks involving customer interaction, music can be seen as a distraction that interferes with service quality and efficiency. In other cases, productivity can be seen as increasing in such occupations that involve repetitive and non interactive duties. For example, while working for my parents’ accounting business, I would engage in data entry for hours. Sitting in front of a computer for long periods at a time would nearly put me to sleep–especially when shift would start at 7 am. By throwing my headphones in with an upbeat song, my brain grew awake and more focused. Time started to fly by. I believe music provides stimulation for the brain that allows it to function in a similar way as caffeine giving your body a boost of energy.

  9. This is really interesting because I can’t focus when I listen to music, but I see everyone at my firm listening to music while they work. Maybe I should give it a try, I’ve always been unfocused when trying to listen to music and do homework. I think some places where music shouldn’t be allowed is in production lines when working with certain equipment that could be dangerous, where you need to be alert and know what the people around you are doing. I wrote a post on productivity through giving out cookies or some kind of treats during the workday that boosts morale.

  10. This post was a great read. I do believe that music should be allowed in the work place as long as it is not distracting other employees. Music can help people’s performance and keep them in a rhythm while doing their work. The setting I would feel most comfortable letting employees listen to music would be, at their desks while they are doing their routine work. I think that music is the best way to increase the productivity of employees as far as entertainment goes. This is because it is in the background and employees would not have to take their eyes off their work. Music really helps me when I am studying or exercising. I think it can really help people at work who may be bored from the day-to-day routine activities. Some tunes from their favorite artists could really put them in a better mood and this could result in better overall performance.

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