We’ve all been told the routine advice on improving productivity on the job: don’t multi-task, minimize interruptions, say no to meetings, set self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the manipulation of environmental sound? Can boosting work productivity really be as straightforward as playing particular 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 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 a variety of 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 results? The employees 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 granted an equivalent masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of relaxing 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 positive impacts on work productivity.
They discovered that listening to music at work improves mood and decreases stress and anxiety, which produces an emotional state conducive to elevated creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music described better moods, produced higher quality work, and spent less time on each task.
Granted, the study was limited to information technology professionals, but there’s good reason to believe the effect is more prevalent.
What kind of music was found to have the largest effect? It turns out that the category is less relevant than the positive emotional reaction it evokes in the listener.
Which means the difference between classical music and heavy metal is trivial 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 smartphone or music 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.