We’ve all read the conventional advice on raising productivity at work: don’t multi-task, limit interruptions, say no to meetings, specify self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the modification of background sound? Can boosting work productivity really be as simple as playing certain types of sounds or music?
It turns out that both nature sounds and music have been found to have positive effects in the workplace.
Let’s start with nature sounds.
The Acoustical Society of America presented findings showing 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 unique 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 final results? The workers 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 greatly preferred over the white noise even though white noise offered a similar masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of soothing nature sounds for you to try out yourself.
If you’re not into nature sounds, research from the University of Windsor shows that listening to music can have comparable beneficial effects on work productivity.
They found that listening to music at work improves mood and minimizes anxiety, which brings about an emotional state conducive to elevated creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music described better moods, produced higher quality work, and invested less time on each task.
Granted, the study was confined to information technology specialists, but there’s reason to believe the effect is more prevalent.
What kind of music was found to have the largest effect? It turns out that the genre is less significant than the positive emotional reaction it evokes in the listener.
Which means the difference between classical music and heavy metal is insignificant provided that the music improves your mood.
Did you know that many hearing aid models allow you to stream music directly to the hearing aids from your phone or music player?
If you have hearing loss, or are thinking about an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start enhancing productivity at work.