We’ve all heard the standard advice on raising productivity on the job: don’t multi-task, minimize interruptions, say no to meetings, specify self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the manipulation of background sound? Can improving work productivity really be as simple as playing particular types of sounds or music?
It turns out that both music and nature sounds have been found to have beneficial effects on the job.
Let’s begin with nature sounds.
The Acoustical Society of America presented findings demonstrating that employees 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 assorted 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 results? The staff members performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more positive about the setting and the task.
The nature sounds were also much preferred over the white noise even though white noise presented a similar masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of calming nature sounds for you to try out yourself.
If nature sounds are not your thing, research from the University of Windsor establishes that listening to music can have similar positive effects on work productivity.
They discovered that listening to music at work improves mood and minimizes stress and anxiety, which produces an emotional state conducive to elevated creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music documented better moods, produced higher quality work, and spent less time on each task.
Granted, the study was confined to information technology professionals, but there’s reason to believe the effect is more prevalent.
What type of music was revealed to have the greatest impact? It turns out that the category is less relevant than the positive emotional response it evokes in the listener.
Which means the difference between classical music and heavy metal is trivial provided that the music enhances your mood.
Did you know that several hearing aid models allow you to stream music directly to the hearing aids from your phone or mp3 player?
If you have hearing loss, or are considering an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start enhancing productivity at work.