by bburky on Flickr

by bburky on Flickr

It’s not uncommon to walk through a sea of cubicles and see employees working away with ear buds in their ears. For many people, the quiet click-clack of the keyboard just doesn’t do it for them during an eight hour stint at their desk. Listening to music throughout the day can keep one focused, engaged and free from any distractions around them.

When I first started at HON a little over a year ago, I remember turning on my Pandora shuffled playlist and thinking, “I wonder what people would think if they actually knew what I was listening to?” At the time, I was very excited about the phenomenal mix Pandora was throwing together for me, based on my saved stations. One minute I was listening to TuPac followed by the Little Mermaid, and the next I was listening to Taylor Swift and Johnny Cash. I couldn’t have been more pleased!  As I typed away during my first week, I couldn’t help but smile knowing that no one could ever guess the odd musical arrangement I was experiencing.

Everyone can find solace at work by experimenting with different types of music. My husband swears by a mix of techno and classical music when staying focused, while I prefer Disney tunes and 90’s jams. Although there are no studies that suggest that listening to music produced in the 90’s improves your work performance, there are studies that suggest listening to music at work can improve both your mood and productivity.

Dr. Amit Sood, a Physician of Integrative Medicine with the Mayo Clinic, found that in biological terms, melodious sounds can release dopamine in the reward section of the brain. This release also happens when you come in contact with other pleasant things and can occur when you smell a pleasant aroma or take a bit of chocolate cake.

Dr. Teresa Lesiuk, Assistant Professor in the Music Therapy Program at the University of Miami, conducted a study on how music affects workplace performance. Her findings concluded that individuals who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t  Dr. Lesiuk stated that this was mostly due to the fact that music improved individual’s moods and when you are in a positive mood, you’re able to take in more options.

No matter what you like to listen to during your work day or how you believe it affects you, it is important to keep workplace music etiquette in mind:

  1. Always listen with one ear bud in your ear. This way you will still remain aware of what is going on around you and can respond if your boss or co-workers are trying to get your attention.
  2. Always listen at a responsible volume. No one wants to accidently hear your Celine Dion remix, or in my case, you do not want your new co-workers to find out so quickly how weird you actually are.
  3. Try to keep your music selection as work appropriate as possible. If you are a big fan of 90’s rap music (like me), make sure you try to find the cleanest versions. Heaven forbid your ear buds come unplugged and your entire row feels like they need to take a shower after the vulgar lyrics. (Note, that if rule #2 is followed, this won’t be a significant problem).

Whether you are listening to The Little Mermaid soundtrack or Beethoven, placing those ear buds in your ears can scientifically better your day. Just remember to be respectful and follow the rules above and you’re well on your way to a personal productive jam out session!

What are some of your favorite songs to keep productivity flowing at work? 

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