We’ve all been told the traditional advice on maximizing productivity on the job: don’t multi-task, minimize interruptions, say no to meetings, set self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the modification of background sound? Can increasing work productivity really be as simple as playing targeted types of sounds or music?
It turns out that both music and nature sounds have been found to have valuable effects at work.
Let’s start with nature sounds.
The Acoustical Society of America presented findings showing that workers can get more done and feel more positive 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 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 environment and the job.
The nature sounds were also much preferred over the white noise even though white noise supplied an equivalent masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of calming 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 beneficial impacts on work productivity.
They found that listening to music at work improves mood and reduces anxiety, which produces an emotional state conducive to enhanced creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music reported better moods, produced higher quality work, and invested less time on each task.
Granted, the study was confined to information technology professionals, 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 heavy metal is unimportant as long as the music enhances your mood.
Did you know that many hearing aid models allow you to stream music directly to the hearing aids from your phone or music player?
If you have hearing loss, or are considering an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start enhancing productivity at work.