Music is a constant companion in everyday life. It is in every department store, most elevators, and in everybody’s homes. There are mixed feelings about the presence of music in the workplace, however, and it has been constantly debated that music can actually boost quality and productivity in the office. This debate has been in the minds of scientists for years, especially now in the age of personal music devices and customized playlists.
According to an article in ‘The Telegraph’, a company known as Mindlab International conducted a study which nine out of ten workers performed better in the presence of music.
“The take-home message is that music is a very powerful management tool if you want to increase not only the efficiency of your workforce but also their mental state, their emotional state – they’re going to become more positive about the work,” said Dr David Lewis, neuropsychologist and chairman of the company.
Not all kinds of music, however, are positive influences to the workplace. It is important to understand that the wrong types of music in the wrong situations can result in negative outcomes. It is all about understanding the types of music that can influence your productivity in positive ways. Everybody is different, so it is also important to remember that unique individuals will not respond the same way to certain types of music.
That being said, there are types of music that will work best in work settings, according to scientific evidence.
Research conducted in 2005 for the journal Psychology of Music’ found that the positive emotions created by empowering music may influence the way in which cognitive material is organized, thus influencing the worker’s creativity. Participants exposed to positive music demonstrated a higher level of creative problem solving than whose who had been exposed to neutral or negative stimuli.
According to ‘Medical Daily’, research recommends listening to empowering music before important meetings or other scenarios which require confidence. However it is recommended that exposure to this type of music for empowering purposes should be had before tasks and during breaks. Although it can increase confidence and energy levels, it can be extremely distracting if exposed to in the wrong situations.
A team of academics from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management found that one of the highest voted songs for empowering music included “We Will Rock You” by Queen:
For repetitive work that requires focus but does not involve much high-cognitive function, energetic and repetitive music has has been found to assist pacing for work tasks throughout the day. Research has shown that removing the ambient music has found a lowered quality of work and prolonged time spent on tasks than intended. This type of music is also perfect for increasing alertness and focus. Songs recommended for this type of work should have a constant, non-complex rhythm.
This song has been found to be one of the most relaxing tunes ever:
Research has found that music has the ability to relax the body and mind. Classical music holds several benefits towards psychological functions, such as a slower pulse and heart rate, lowered blood pressure and a lowered level of stress hormones. Research has found that such music can reduce burnout in nursing students, who are required to perform extremely stressful tasks. Stress and negative moods can cause a major road block in productivity. For particularly stressful jobs, ambient classical music can relax the nerves and improve moods, consequently allowing better concentration and work ethic.
After all, it has been found that music-enhanced cognitive performance is a by-product of mood and arousal.
Have a listen to Beethoven’s “Fidelio Overture”:
The processing of music shares some of the pathways in the brain as memory. The University of California conducted a study exposing students to recordings of Mozart compared with relaxation tapes or silence. It was found that student test scores improved after exposure to Mozart’s music, as compared to the other sounds. This is known, not surprisingly, as “The Mozart Effect”. For a mental boost at work, especially concerning tasks that involve a great deal of thinking and remembering, it might be worth revisiting some music by the famous child prodigy.
I’m sure we can all identify Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”:
The study conducted by Mindlab found that participants exposed to pop music completed data entry tasks 58% quicker than those who had no music at all. In terms of spell-checking, pop music has been described as the best genre for fastest overall performance, with an additional 14% decrease in error occurrence.
Nothing can speed up tasks than beats such as “Treasure” performed by Bruno Mars:
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