We’ve all heard the typical advice on maximizing productivity at work: don’t multi-task, minimize interruptions, say no to meetings, set self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the manipulation of background sound? Can increasing work productivity really be as straightforward as playing certain types of music or sounds?
It turns out that both nature sounds and music have been found to have beneficial effects in the workplace.
Let’s begin with nature sounds.
The Acoustical Society of America presented findings showing that workers can get more done and feel more optimistic at work when nature sounds are playing in the background.
The study consisted of three sessions in the same room, where researchers had participants complete tests while listening to different soundscapes. Each session had a different type of sound playing in the background, as follows:
- First session: office sounds muffled by white noise
- Second session: office sounds muffled by nature sounds
- Third session: office sounds with no masking noise
The final results? The staff performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more positive about the setting and the job.
The nature sounds were also much preferred over the white noise even though white noise granted a similar masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of calming nature sounds for you to experiment with yourself.
If nature sounds are not your thing, research from the University of Windsor establishes that listening to music can have comparable beneficial effects on work productivity.
They discovered that listening to music on the job improves mood and reduces stress and anxiety, which brings about an emotional state conducive to elevated creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music recorded better moods, produced higher quality work, and invested less time on each task.
Granted, the study was restricted to information technology specialists, but there’s good reason to think the effect is more widespread.
What style of music was revealed to have the largest effect? It turns out that the category is less relevant than the positive emotional reaction it evokes in the listener.
Which means the difference between classical music and hard rock is unimportant as long as the music improves your mood.
Did you know that a variety of hearing aid models allow you to stream music straight to the hearing aids from your phone or music player?
If you have hearing loss, or are thinking about an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start boosting productivity at work.