We’ve all been told the standard advice on enhancing productivity on the job: don’t multi-task, minimize interruptions, say no to meetings, establish self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the manipulation of background sound? Can improving work productivity really be as simple as playing targeted types of sounds or music?
It turns out that both music and nature sounds have been found to have favorable effects in the workplace.
Let’s start 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 varied 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 staff performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more optimistic about the environment and the job.
The nature sounds were also much preferred over the white noise even though white noise provided a similar masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of relaxing nature sounds for you to experiment with yourself.
If you’re not into nature sounds, research from the University of Windsor shows that listening to music can have similar positive impacts on work productivity.
They found that listening to music at work improves mood and lessens anxiety, which brings about an emotional state conducive to elevated creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music documented better moods, created higher quality work, and spent less time on each task.
Granted, the study was confined to information technology professionals, but there’s reason to think the effect is more widespread.
What kind of music was revealed to have the largest effect? It turns out that the genre is less important than the positive emotional reaction it evokes in the listener.
Which means the difference between classical music and hard rock is unimportant as long as the music improves your mood.
Did you know that many hearing aid models enable you to stream music directly to the hearing aids from your smartphone 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 maximizing productivity at work.