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Music at Work – Good or Bad?

by | May 19, 2019 | Leadership & Management

From time to time, team members will share their views stimulated from a piece by an industry thought leader. Here, our Director of Paid Marketing, Kim Figor, discusses a LinkedIn. article by contributor, Jason Miller “Music at Work – Good or Bad?”

To listen or not listen (to music that is) – That is the question, but what is the answer. On one hand, every office environment is likely to have an unknown percentage of the employees who prefer – no DEMAND – absolute silence in order to perform at an optimal level. Then, of course, at the opposite end of the spectrum, there will be a percentage of people who are absolutely convinced that music is the sole reason for supreme performance. After all, not many people would disagree that music is definitely a muse.

Some question asked and answered in Miller’s article include – “Is listening to music evidence that you’re just not concentrating? Or is it an essential to helping you concentrate? Does it distract? Or drown out other rival distractions?”

If you’re wondering what makes Miller an expert in this topic… Well, he may not be the expert, but Miller did a fabulous job on finding the research. Here are just a couple examples quoted directly from his article:

  • Research from neuropsychologists at Mindlab International last year found that nine out of ten workers produced more accurate test results when listening to music than when surrounded by silence – evidence that music in general has a generally positive impact on mental alertness.
  • That same research suggests different types of music are better suited to different tasks: classical music if you’re making calculations and need attention to detail, pop music for entering data, dance music for proof-reading.
  • Earlier research from a collection of music licensing companies found that business owners (in particular smaller business owners) have a lot of faith in music boosting morale and productivity. In fact, 40% went so far to claim that the music they played actually increased sales.
  • The neuroscience as to how music affects different parts of the brain comes from experiments conducted at McGill college in 2001 – and the impact on wellbeing of dopamine, which music helps to release, has been frequently studied.
  • That all adds up to a lot of positive evidence for the impact of music on productivity – but the nuances of how music affects the brain also mean that it’s very bad news for certain tasks. If your work requires linguistic processing (if you’re writing something for example) then music with lyrics can interfere with your mental processes. The same applies when you are trying to learn new information.

Despite whether you are a music listener or prefer dead silence, you may be surprised to learn how music can increase your performance at work. I know I learned a thing or two!


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