We’ve all heard the routine advice on maximizing productivity at work: don’t multi-task, minimize interruptions, say no to meetings, establish self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the manipulation of environmental sound? Can increasing work productivity really be as straightforward as playing targeted types of sounds or music?
It turns out that both nature sounds and music have been found to have positive effects at work.
Let’s begin with nature sounds.
The Acoustical Society of America presented findings showing that workers 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 assorted 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 staff members performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more positive about the setting and the task.
The nature sounds were also much preferred over the white noise even though white noise provided an equivalent masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of comforting nature sounds for you to experiment with yourself.
If nature sounds are not your thing, research from the University of Windsor demonstrates that listening to music can have similar positive effects on work productivity.
They discovered that listening to music on the job boosts mood and decreases anxiety, which produces an emotional state conducive to enhanced creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music described better moods, produced higher quality work, and devoted less time on each task.
Granted, the study was limited to information technology professionals, but there’s good reason to think the effect is more prevalent.
What style of music was revealed to have the largest effect? It turns out that the genre is less significant than the positive emotional response it evokes in the listener.
Which means the difference between classical music and hard rock is trivial provided that the music improves your mood.
Did you know that many hearing aid models permit you to stream music straight to the hearing aids from your phone or mp3 player?
If you have hearing loss, or are considering an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start boosting productivity at work.