We’ve all heard the routine advice on elevating productivity at work: don’t multi-task, limit interruptions, say no to meetings, establish self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the modification of background sound? Can improving work productivity really be as simple as playing particular types of sounds or music?
It turns out that both music and nature sounds have been found to have favorable effects on the job.
Let’s begin 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 various 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 final results? The staff 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 greatly preferred over the white noise even though white noise presented an equivalent masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of soothing nature sounds for you to test out yourself.
If nature sounds are not your thing, research from the University of Windsor shows that listening to music can have comparable beneficial effects on work productivity.
They discovered that listening to music in the workplace boosts mood and lessens anxiety, which produces an emotional state conducive to enhanced creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music reported better moods, produced higher quality work, and devoted less time on each task.
Granted, the study was limited to information technology specialists, but there’s good reason to think 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 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 straight to the hearing aids from your phone or mp3 player?
If you have hearing loss, or are considering an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start maximizing productivity at work.