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Music in the Workplace

Music in the workplace. Should it be allowed? Do you go quiet computer speakers or headphones? What kind of environment works best, “library-like” noise rules or an office that blares Kanye’s new Lift Yourself track? There may be a happy middle ground and it might be more beneficial than you think.

Since the beginning of commercially broadcast radio back in the 1920s, people have often wondered what effects it may have in the workplace. Today there are many ways to consume radio or music in general throughout the day, most of which no longer involve a radio. There are two sides to this debate.

Is music is a distraction that should not be allowed? Or does music lift moods and create a productive environment?

I know that personally, music has helped me focus on whatever it was that I wanted to get done. Whether that was getting mentally prepared for a basketball or football game, mowing lawns, or even preparing my own taxes, music was always there to help out.

While the example above of a church-mouse-quiet library or a loud, upbeat and fast paced office may be the two ends of the spectrum, somewhere in the middle lies a balance that can help spark creativity, focus minds, and uplift moods.

When it comes to focus, familiar music is best.

Something that your mind is familiar with or have heard before can help organize your thoughts more efficiently and clearly. If the music is new and previously unheard, the brain uses its power to try and focus on what it is hearing and predict what may come next. For some, removing lyrics can be the best route and part of the reason classical music has been linked to quicker brain development in young children.

But maybe the music itself isn’t the thing that causes the productivity effect. Maybe the music provides an effect on something else that leads to the focus. The music itself helps improve moods and morale of workers and this improvement in mood is what leads to completion of more tasks and at a quicker rate and with more quality ideas.

So, when starting out with music in the workplace, a pair of headphones and some non-lyric familiar music might be the place to begin. Once you get a feel for your co-workers and know of a shared interest in similar music the team collaboration can really start to optimize and work better together.

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