We’ve all read the standard advice on improving productivity on the job: don’t multi-task, limit interruptions, say no to meetings, set self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the manipulation of environmental sound? Can increasing work productivity really be as simple as playing specific types of sounds or music?
It turns out that both music and nature sounds have been found to have positive effects at work.
Let’s begin with nature sounds.
The Acoustical Society of America presented findings indicating 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 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 provided a comparable masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of tranquil nature sounds for you to try out yourself.
If you’re not into nature sounds, research from the University of Windsor establishes that listening to music can have similar positive effects on work productivity.
They discovered that listening to music in the workplace improves mood and decreases anxiety, which creates an emotional state conducive to enhanced creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music reported better moods, created higher quality work, and devoted less time on each task.
Granted, the study was restricted to information technology specialists, but there’s good reason to believe the effect is more widespread.
What kind of music was revealed to have the greatest effect? It turns out that the category is less important than the positive emotional reaction it evokes in the listener.
That means the difference between classical music and hard rock is insignificant provided that 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 music player?
If you have hearing loss, or are contemplating an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start maximizing productivity at work.