Does Music Boost Productivity At Work?

Music can be very motivating. It’s great for when you’re working out, stuck in traffic, or cleaning the house. But now there’s a reason to crank up “Bohemian Rhapsody” and your other favourite songs at work. New research shows that music makes a lot of people feel more productive at the office.

Staffing firm Accountemps surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. workers aged 18 and older with office jobs. Eighty-five percent who were able to listen to music at work liked doing so. Those aged 18 to 34 were most likely to appreciate music at work (95 percent), compared to employees aged 35-54 (84 percent) and those older than 55 (66 percent).

If it makes your day more pleasant, why not listen to Aerosmith, Bruno Mars, or Kenny Chesney?

Seventy-one percent of those surveyed claimed they were at least somewhat more productive when they heard music at the office. The genres that led to the biggest boost in work production? Pop, rock and country.

Even though a lot of people enjoy music in the background while completing tasks in the office, some don’t.

“While music can be a stress reliever or source of motivation for many workers, it can be a distraction for others,” said Michael Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps. “Those who want to listen to music in the office need to be aware of company policies and considerate toward their colleagues.”

Work culture varies, and not everyone is allowed to listen to music in the office. Forty-four percent said they listen to music without any restrictions, while 38 percent said they must adhere to some rules (such as wearing headphones). Nine percent said they aren’t allowed to listen to music at all.

When asked whether they were more productive when music was playing, 39 percent said they were “much more productive,” and 32 percent said they were “somewhat more productive.” A handful of respondents (6 percent and 1 percent, respectively), said they were “somewhat less productive” or “not productive at all.” One in five said music had no impact on their work productivity at all.

Accountemps has some advice for people who like listening to music but may not have like-minded colleagues:

  • Be respectful of those who may not share your musical tastes
  • Don’t irritate coworkers by singing, humming, or tapping your hands or feet
  • Keep the volume at a level that allows you to hear the phone ring or someone calling your name
  • Use headphones in a shared office space
  • Don’t blare the music when communicating with colleagues
  • Don’t be so distracted by the music that you fail to respond to others
  • Pick appropriate times to listen to music, such as when the office isn’t busy or you’re working by yourself
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