Music: Should it be banned in the office?

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Music can make the working day go faster or inspire a tired mind, but for some workplaces the only beat allowed is the tapping of the keyboard.

A new study has revealed that 19% of businesses have banned music from the workplace. However, research has also revealed that outlawing tunes could be hindering the office vibe. Three-quarters of those in offices where music is forbidden state lifting the ban would reduce stress, anxiety and improve moods.

The survey, by online music streaming service Spotify, of 500 office workers also showed that of those prohibited, 49% agreed accessing their playlists would help them be more productive and 47% said it would help them be more creative.

Elizabeth Howells, Director of PeopleCentric and Organizational Psychology specialist who helped with the research, said music can be used to optimize the working day.

“Promoting music at work has the potential to benefit businesses – research suggests that listening to the right kind of music can help make the working environment a happier, less stressful and more productive environment," she said.

There are four areas in which music can aid the workplace according to Howells: stress and anxiety relief; happiness, motivation and energy; concentration, focus and productivity; and inter-office relations and collaboration.

When the pressure is on and stress is rising, Howells recommends listening to songs with 60 beats per minute.

“Studies have shown that breathing in time to such music, at a controlled pace, helps lower blood pressure, in turn combatting anxiety," she said.

Music has repeatedly been found to improve mood and upbeat music around 120 – 140 beats per minute has been shown to help with motivation. Howells adds that faster paced music can lift energy levels.

Howells prescribes classical or easy listening music to improve cognitive performance and information retention.

“Recent research also suggests that pop and rock with a tempo between 60 and 97 beats per minute can have similar productivity gains,” she added.

As for inter-office relations, Howells said music is great at connecting people and can spark social interaction but, when playing tunes in the office, it is important to remember it’s not one size fits all and to make sure everyone has a say in what gets played.

Other key findings from the survey:

Those that are allowed to listen to music at work say:

  • 89.7% use music to boost their mood
  • 86.4% tune in to reduce stress and anxiety while 70% agree that music helps them be more productive
  • To aid concentration and focus 59% hit the play button
  • 56% believe music fosters creativity
  • 16% cite music as being “completely essential to getting through the working day while 30% say it is “really useful for certain jobs or times of the day


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