Music in the Workplace

Music in the Workplace

Whether it’s from listening to the office radio or through personal earphones, is there a case for listening to music in the workplace? We take a closer look.

For many, music can be quite a debated subject. Some will prefer different genres to others, different artists to their colleagues and so on. But is there perhaps a case to be made for listening to it when in the workplace environment? And if so, what are some of the main effects resulting from listening whilst busy with tasks?

Music Can Increase Productivity

A bold statement to make, but one that has been researched by UK leading collection society Performing Right Society (PRS). The PRS conducted a study into worker behavior when listening to music and found that 73% of warehouse workers commented that they were being more productive when listening to it in the background. Not only does music have workers approval, but it also has business owners’ green tick too. 65% of organizations and businesses say that music in the workplace helps to make them and their workforce work quicker and more efficiently. And to shift focus onto customer facing stores and retailers, a survey concludes that one in five believe they would be likely to lose business if they were unable able to play some in the background.

Music Boosts Creativity

This isn’t the only benefit that listening to music in the workplace would seems to have however. Teresa Lesiuk, Associate Professor and Programme Director at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami conducted a further research project on the effects of music listening on work performance. One part of her study reveals that IT specialists who listened whilst performing work tasks were able to complete them quicker. They were also said to improve in their overall creativity too, with the findings backing the theory that music helped them to come up with better solutions and ideas than when working in silence.

A Potential Distraction?

It’s not a clear cut fact that music provides these benefits to everyone however. Some people can object to listening to it entirely, at work or at home. And as two experts explain, the idea of listening to music could prove to be a distraction for some. Dr Carolyn Axtell at the Institute of Work Psychology, expands on the capability for it to provide a distraction, citing: “If people need a high level of concentration, it could be a distraction.

Dr Anneli Haake, who completed a PhD in Music Psychology, further explains how it could rely on balance and control.

“When people choose to listen there can be positive effects – it can be relaxing and help manage other distractions such as noise. But when it’s imposed, they can find it annoying and stressful.”

Haake also airs her words of warning to business owners and managers if choice is likely to cause aggravation between colleagues.

“You can look away if you don’t want to see something, but you can’t close your ears.”

Managing Music in the Workplace

If you are considering implementing a policy which allows workers to listen to music at work or already have one in place, here are a few guidelines you could follow to avoid conflicts and disagreements.

  • Settle on one radio station – If you are planning to use a workplace radio, then make sure that everyone in vicinity of it has a say on what radio station it should be kept on. The best way to avoid disagreements on radio choice is to hold a vote. That way, everyone can vote for their taste and won’t be able to argue once the vote results are revealed.
  • Allow workers to use earphones/headphones – This won’t be relevant in roles where workers are customer facing or rely on regular communication. However, in offices where workers aren’t dealing with the public, allowing them to use their own earphones or headphones in order to listen to their music is likely to prove a popular decision. Being able to listen to their own taste will lessen the likelihood of clashes occurring over music or radio station choice.
  • Ensure you own the correct licenses – Much like what is required in order to watch TV, music licenses are required in any public business. Most instances will require you to hold both a license from the PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) and PRS for Music. If you require more information about music licensing within a business, then visit the Music Works Contact Page here

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Sam Rose

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