As you read this post, you may be listening to your favorite Spotify playlist through your trusty noise-cancelling headphones. Heck, I currently have Adele playing in the background as I write. But does listening to music at work help your performance?
Or does it slow you down? In this post, we’ll take a look at the impact of music on workplace productivity and offer some tips for what kinds of tunes you should play to get in the zone and power through your to-do list.
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Music and productivity
Music has the ability to influence how we experience things around us, and happy tunes can make work more enjoyable. If you listen to music at work, you’re in good company. In fact, 61% of employees listen to music at work to make them happier and more productive.
And according to research, it works! Studies show that 90% of workers perform better when listening to music, and 88% of employees produce more accurate work when listening to music. Listening to music not only boosts workplace efficiency, it can also improve your mental and emotional well-being.
Music and business
65% of business owners agree that music makes employees more productive, and 77% of small- and medium-sized business owners believe that playing music increases employee morale. In certain industries, such as retail and hospitality, music has an even greater impact on employee performance and attitude. Happy employees provide better customer service, and improved customer experience can lead to more revenue and word of mouth marketing.
In fact, 40% of business owners believe that playing music can actually increase sales, and research shows that without music, 25% of retailers and 33% of hospitality companies would actually lose business. So if you want to boost your revenue, you may want to grab some headphones, find your favorite station, and get down to business.
Music and your brain
Have you ever started crying while listening to a sad ballad or tapped your foot along to a happy tune? Music arouses emotion from the nucleus accumbens, a major player in the brain’s reward circuit. The nucleus accumbens operates on two neurotransmitters: dopamine, which helps regulate emotional responses, and serotonin, which can affect mood and social behavior.
This is why songs can instantly grab our emotions and transport us back to a certain time and place. An experiment at McGill College found that listening to music activates the same brain structures and regions linked to other euphoric stimuli, such as food, sex, and drugs. Blood rises and falls with the swells of music in areas of the brain associated with reward, emotion, and arousal.
In addition, music activates that motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls voluntary movements. So if you find yourself moving to the beat of a song, you can thank your motor cortex. Music also stimulates memories from the hippocampus, the center of memory, learning, and emotion located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain.
This is why listening to a particular song can take you on a walk down memory lane.
Why people love music
Ever wonder why people are so passionate about music? Music releases dopamine in the reward center of the brain, the same chemical released when you eat your favorite food or when you get a new follower on social media. And it makes you want more!
This is also why finding new music you love is so exciting. Listening to pleasurable music releases dopamine, and dopamine increases happiness. People also love music because they can express their personalities and opinions through the music they listen to.
And they can often relate song lyrics to experiences in their own lives.
Health benefits of music
Listening to music also has a multitude of health benefits. It:
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Decreases pain
- Improves immune function
- Aids memory
- Increases motivation
According to neuroscientists, listening to music magnifies positive emotion through the reward centers of the brain, and it stimulates hits of dopamine that can distract you from painful or stressful situations. Music therapy is also beneficial for dementia patients, helping them recall memories and emotions.
Music for boosting productivity
Music provides a great escape in noisy office environments, and it can help you drown out distractions to keep you at the peak of productivity. However, how do different genres of music impact productivity?
- Ambient music: improves accuracy of data entry in 92% of people
- Dance music: improves proofreading speed by 20%
- Classical music: improves accuracy by 12%
- Pop music: reduces mistakes by 14%
In addition, 58% of people completed tasks more quickly when listening to pop music. So if you need to get a job done quickly, play your favorite pop tunes. Ambient noise is also great for sparking creativity and improving concentration.
When to change the station
While music is helpful for boosting productivity, it’s also beneficial to change the station or turn music off completely depending on the tasks you need to accomplish. If you need to learn new things, you want music without lyrics since lyrics can interfere with your ability to retain new information. When you listen to music with lyrics, your brain has to process auditory data on top of the information and facts you’re trying to learn.
This multitasking can cause your brain to interpret the information incorrectly or make mistakes about what it needs to store. In addition, if your work requires deep focus, it’s best to choose familiar songs. New music can surprise and distract you from your work if it’s more interesting than the task you need to accomplish.
Finally, if your work requires linguistic processing, it’s best to choose music without lyrics to avoid confusion and keep your mind free of potential distractions.