Music Productivity at Work: What's the Verdict?
Updated: Apr 19, 2022
Should you listen to music while you work?
This article aims to answer the question of whether music affects your productivity at work.
If you're currently playing music while working you are not alone. According to research, 61% of workers report listening to music while working.
But is it effective? Should you listen to music while completing all types of assignments? Are there different types of music you should listen to while working? Do music and productivity go hand in hand?
This article presents how music:
Affects your brain
Can positively impact productivity
Can harm productivity
Is to be listened to or not depending on your assignment
Read our post and learn how to choose the right playlist for productive workdays!
How does music affect your brain?
According to research by the John Hopkins medicine research facility, listening to music can have a wide range of benefits for your brain.
In their studies music was found to:
Decrease stress and anxiety
Improve sleep quality
Positively impact mood
Increase mental alertness and memory
Music therapy is a thing!
The role of dopamine
Scientific studies have shown that listening to music, especially if it is a song you love, also triggers the reward centers in our brain.
These reward centers in our brains are responsible for the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. The same chemical is released when you work out, have sex, eat your favorite food, or get many likes on your new Instagram post.
This chemical plays a very important role in the pleasure we feel. As importantly, it's what makes humans capable of thinking and planning. Why? Because looking forward to a dopamine hit is what makes us strive, focus and develop an interest in certain things.
Anyway, back to music. Listening to music you love releases dopamine, and dopamine makes you happy and helps you focus, in a nutshell. Music makes us happy!
Don't we love science?
How does music impact productivity?
So we know music can help you feel better and has a whole host of other benefits. But can it help you increase your productivity at work?
Well, yes and no.
The impact of listening to music while working depends on the nature of your work. If you work in a highly repetitive environment doing non mentally challenging tasks music may help improve productivity for example. However, if you are doing complex work or trying to learn new information it may be better to work in silence, without any noise at all.
Disclaimer: If the music is so good that it is distracting you from your work and you are spending your day dancing and singing, then it is definitely not increasing productivity. It does depend on the individual.
Music and productivity: interesting numbers
A few numbers about music and productivity
According to a great infographic developed by WebFX:
61% of people listen to music in the workplace to be happier and more productive in their job
9 out of 10 workers are more productive when listening to music
88% of people perform in a more accurate way when listening to music
A few numbers about music and business
The findings of researchers presented by WebFX also show that business owners believe music has the potential to boost employees and help them perform better.
Here are a few more interesting numbers related to music in the workplace:
77% of SME company owners believe music increases employee morale
65% believe it boosts employee productivity
40% of company owners believe music increases sales
Well, if anything, these numbers show music's potential of increasing employees' productivity and thus business performance. If you're a business owner reading this, you might want to invest in a sound system for your workplace!
In which cases does music boost productivity?
Music could help for certain workplace tasks, particularly data entry and proofreading assignments for example.
In fact, WebFX's infographic shows:
Ambient music improves data entry accuracy for 92% of employees
58% of employees completed information entry tasks faster when listening to popular music or upbeat sounds
Dance music helps workers proofread 20% faster
When can music be detrimental to productivity?
Music can also harm productivity if listened to during tasks requiring you to learn, assimilate knowledge and retain information.
This especially applies to music with lyrics and a fast tempo, which requires your brain to process auditory data, potentially interfering with the information you need to retain for your job assignment.
When to opt for music without lyrics
You're completing an assignment requiring learning
Your work requires deep concentration
You've already listened to a substantial amount of new music during the day: too much dopamine may affect your ability to focus!
In sum, choose the right time to listen to music so it doesn't distract you! Science says so.
5 tips to prevent music from harming your productivity
1. Keep the sound down
No matter what assignment you are completing, listening to music at a high level might harm your concentration. In addition, as previously stated, loud music might lead to an extra release of our famous happiness neurotransmitter, of which a too substantial amount can harm your focus.
Do your concentration and eardrums a favor and keep your music at a low level when you work. To improve your concentration and productivity it is key that the music remains as background noise.
2. Stick to titles you know
Listening to a song you are already familiar with requires less brainpower than new exciting ones. Stick to tunes you've been listening to for a while, especially if the task you are completing requires deep focus.
In addition (and again), new exciting sounds might trigger another reward hormone release and compromise your ability to concentrate. Stick to what's familiar!
3. Play tunes without lyrics
Tunes with no or few lyrics are less likely to overload your brain. This is why instrumental and classical music is very popular amongst students. Funny how different musical genres can create a positive impact, eh?
Indeed, lyrics may decrease productivity. For instance, the fast-paced Rap and Hip-Hop genres may not be the wisest choice if you need to retain information.Want to boost your performance for tasks requiring a high level of concentration? Play classical and instrumental musical genres!
4. Listen to songs that will create a positive mood
Despite all the advice given above, it's of crucial importance you play sounds that put you in a good mood. If you're happy, it's very likely you'll be more motivated, positive, and productive. We're still after dopamine after all! If you need that beat, go for it.
This may be especially important if you are doing repetitive tasks. If your office is full of employ