The pros and cons of bringing music into the workplace

August 25

Music playing in the office is a controversial topic, fueling debates and disrupting the status quo of office politics almost as much as ‘the perfect air temperature’. Some like answering emails to a soundtrack of classical ballads; some people prefer chart hits that make you itch to sing along; other people would choose to work in complete an utter silence if they had it their way.

There isn’t a one-size-suits-all approach to music in the workplace unfortunately so we’re here to thrash it out. In this blog post, we’re going to be venturing over to both sides of the fence to explore the most common advantages and disadvantages of playing music in the office. The final say is, of course, down to you and extremely personal to your business, your staff and the nature of your company culture. Hopefully though, the below information will help you make a more informed decision.

The pros and cons of bringing music into the workplace

Why are some people cautious about having music in the workplace?

Let’s first start by looking at some of the reasons why business owners argue against having music playing in the office…

It might deter focus and concentration

Some say that having music playing in the background, even at a low volume, will distract staff from working, break concentration and therefore be a detriment to the productivity of the team.

It could hinder communication

Some believe that the additional level of noise introduced into the space as a result of playing music will interfere with colleague communication. Staff might not be able to hear phones ringing or conversations with co-workers if the music is too loud or too prominent within the office acoustics.

It’s impossible to keep everybody happy

Music taste is such a personal thing and a huge part of what makes you, you, which is a wonderful thing but does make common ground tricky to come by where the workspace is concerned. Whether it’s radio stations or playlists, finding something that everybody will enjoy simultaneously is pretty much impossible.

It isn’t just a matter of preference either – when it comes to fostering an inclusive workplace and working culture, it’s vital that you consider the various personality types and mental health conditions that might respond negatively to background music, both in general and of specific genres.

For these reasons, some business owners prefer not to broach the subject at all.

The pros and cons of bringing music into the workplace

The benefits of having music playing in the office

Although there are certainly some things to consider before turning the volume up on the workplace playlist, there are plenty of advantages that come as a result of having background music in the office.

These include:

Boosting productivity and morale

A survey carried out by Spotify showed that 61% of people listen to music at work as a way to enhance both their productivity and their happiness. In addition, a study published by Fox and Embrey found that nearly all (90%) of people worked better, and a vast majority (88%) produced more accurate work when using music as a productivity tool.

Helping maintain motivation when tasks are mundane

Monotonous or repetitive tasks can be lethal when it comes to sustaining engagement and motivation levels. Accompanying this type of work with music can help keep those completing it stay more alert, as well as making the task more enjoyable to carry out.

Drowning out unwanted background sounds

If you tune in carefully, you’ll notice that the modern office is full of irritating sounds: pens clicking, keyboards tapping, people eating, fans whirring, colleagues chatting, windows rattling, kettle boiling. Music can provide a great way to dampen all of these which, contrary to some beliefs, could actually help improve focus and concentration.

Supporting attraction and retention of staff

Often, actioning something like having music in the workplace speaks volumes about a business. It tells employees that their employers value their experience and their wellbeing. In doing this, a business then bolsters its ability to attract and retain the best talent in its industry.

The pros and cons of bringing music into the workplace

Ways to introduce music into the workplace:

If you have decided to press play on music in the office to trial its benefits, here are some tips on making sure it works for everybody:

Ask employees what they would prefer – Doing your research and reading articles just like this one is a great place to start but working out whether or not music in your workplace is going to be beneficial or not is down to the people in it. Always canvas multiple opinions before implementing any new workspace behaviours.

Designated times or settings for music – If the workforce is divided, you could pick specific times of the day or week where music is played and leave other times available for music-free working.

Permit the use of personal headphones – At times or in spaces where you might not have music playing out of communal speakers, allow the use of individual headphones for those who work best with some background sound.

Introduce some acoustic solutions to control noise – If you are going to introduce another dimension of sound into the space, we recommend investing in some office acoustic solutions to help control excess noise. This is particularly important in open plan workspaces where sound is able to travel freely.

Do you enjoy some background music in your working environment, or do you need peace and quiet in order to work most productively? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!

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