We’ve all been told the traditional advice on improving productivity at work: don’t multi-task, minimize interruptions, say no to meetings, set self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the manipulation of environmental sound? Can improving work productivity really be as simple as playing targeted types of music or sounds?
It turns out that both music and nature sounds have been found to have positive effects at work.
Let’s begin with nature sounds.
The Acoustical Society of America presented findings indicating that employees can get more done and feel more positive 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 different 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 job.
The nature sounds were also much preferred over the white noise even though white noise afforded an equivalent masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of tranquil nature sounds for you to test out yourself.
If nature sounds are not your thing, research from the University of Windsor demonstrates that listening to music can have comparable positive impacts on work productivity.
They discovered that listening to music in the workplace improves mood and lessens anxiety, which creates an emotional state conducive to enhanced creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music described better moods, created higher quality work, and invested less time on each task.
Granted, the study was restricted to information technology professionals, but there’s reason to think the effect is more widespread.
What kind of music was found to have the greatest effect? It turns out that the genre is less significant than the positive emotional response it evokes in the listener.
That means the difference between classical music and heavy metal is insignificant as long as 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 smartphone or music player?
If you have hearing loss, or are contemplating an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start enhancing productivity at work.