Music while working – are you in favour of this habit?

Music while working are you in favour of this practice? Do your colleagues’ conversations disturb you, are you having a hard time concentrating, or can you simply not go without music for even a few minutes, so you always work with earbuds in your ears? If so, you are far from being the only one, but are you sure that this habit really helps you in your working life?

What is the impact on productivity?

There are many scientifically proven benefits of music. A sense of isolation that helps get rid of noise and parasitic environments especially in open spaces, production of dopamine that leads to a feeling of well-being through stimulation of the brain’s reward centres, reduced stress, better decision-making capacity, alleviation of fatigue, …

According to MusicWorks, an initiative put in place to demonstrate the positive effects of music for businesses, 88% of people who participated in the study said they work more accurately when listening to music and 77% of managers and business leaders think letting their staff listen to music improves productivity. 71% of employees would also like to be able to listen to music while working.

In the case of repetitive or manual tasks, music while working provides a cadence that is conducive to efficiency by a synchronizing effect, while for deep thinking, it can on the other hand be a distraction even if you have the impression of being more productive with headphones on.

Actually, we are not all equal. In the end, the effect of music on morale and productivity depends on habits and personalities. If you don’t usually like music, listening to it at work will not be a magic wand to make you more efficient!

Instrumental preferred

If you decide to have music while working, be aware that the lyrics may be a source of distraction – work involves an inner reflection for which your brain manipulates language, and lyrics tend to interfere with this reflection. So choose instrumental pieces or versions, such as classical music, piano or the original soundtracks of films, for example. Songs in a language that you don’t speak can also work, since your brain will quickly give up trying to understand the words and will just focus on the rhythm.

Choosing a tune based on the tasks at hand

MusicWorks looked at several music styles and concludes that each has its own use. Classical music, for example, is preferred for working with numbers and attention to details, pop reduces the margin of error in entering data and checking spelling, while electronica leads to faster performance in tasks involving abstract reasoning.

In all cases, tunes that are too rhythmical are deceptive – they can give the impression of boosting energy, but in the long term they tend to be tiring and have a negative effect on concentration. So you can use them occasionally (at the beginning of the day to be stimulated before arriving at the office or between two tasks to restore motivation) but it’s better not to listen to them all the time.

To be avoided

Be careful – don’t let your habit become a nuisance to colleagues who are not such music lovers. So don’t forget your headset, and avoid nodding your head or tapping your feet or fingers, since these little quirks can quickly become annoying and distract those around you. Remember that some people prefer quietness and silence.

Some workplaces have a negative view of listening to music at the office. If you are hired by one of these companies but like working to music, you will have to come up with a reason. Your preference should not become a source of conflict or make you be considered as someone who refuses to comply with the rules.

Finally, use common sense – don’t listen to an earbud with one ear and a customer with the other! Reserve music for your solitary duties. When your tasks require interaction with other people, whether prospects, suppliers, your boss or your colleagues, put away your drive and give them your full attention, it’s the least of courtesies.

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