Listening To Music At Work: Yay Or Nay?

August 23, 2013

Music is a massive part of almost everyone’s life. Whether we’re cognizant of it or not, music infiltrates almost everything we do so it’s only natural that it found its way into the workplace.

It can be an issue with employees and management. However, as with most issues, there are two sides to every story. On one hand there is the typical, “You can’t work and listen to music at the same time!” But on the other hand, why can’t you listen to music and be productive at the same time?

In an article by Alexandra DeFelice, she states that this issue can often be a multigenerational issue with the idea that productivity is being sacrificed if an employee is distracted by his or her music. It can be understandable that some senior managers may be suspicious of younger employees’ productivity when they see them grooving to their music.

Other people may simply find music too distracting. Anthony Balderrama wrote an article about the dos and don’ts of listening to music at work and found that some workers prefer to leave music outside of work. Balderrama mentions one such worker who finds music distracting because he studied music production. So instead of feeling soothed by the music he will notice if the singer is off key.

However, being one of these ‘younger employees’ I can relate to people who need a little music to help them concentrate or to just brighten their day. Personally, when studying or writing papers, I need to have noise in the background to help keep me focused. Unfortunately, silence can make tasks feel like they’re dragging on and can promote boredom and sleep.

Another article by Claire Suddath discussed how music also affects the way we think and work in many ways we probably aren’t aware of. According to Suddath, music can raise your energy level and “take the edge off at work”. Music website Songza has a great station called “Epic Film Scores” that can make any task seem triumphant.

Suddath’s article also describes how music can “kick-start your brain”. Music can bring back memories and can also increase your ability to recall data, which could be a reason why most Generation Y’s can finish these lyrics: “In west Philadelphia, born and raised…” Fresh Prince of Bel Air aside, studies have shown that different types of music can stimulate different parts of your brain. For example, Suddath cites that a Baroque symphony can help stimulate the attention part of your brain.

If you are among the music listeners, Balderamma has a few suggestions to ensure you don’t bother anyone around you:
1. If you work in an open area, use headphones. If you have your own office, feel free to listen out loud but make sure the sound doesn’t float through the walls of the ventilation system.
2. Make sure you can still hear if the phone rings or someone calls your name, no one likes to do a mime routine to get your attention.
3. Pause your music when you’re on the phone, especially if you have external speakers.
4. Don’t sing out loud. We’re all Adele in our heads but out loud is a different story.
5. Try your best to keep dance moves to a minimum; you don’t want to accidentally fist-pump a co-worker.
There is room for everyone in the workplace. So music lovers, remember to always be considerate of the silence seekers and they’ll remember not to judge you for your Taylor Swift obsession.

The following articles were used for research:

– Danielle Forbes