Music's Impact on Productivity: Insights from Science

Working with music on, or working in silence? According to science, what is the most productive option? Read ahead to find out which genre is best suitable for your work

Science answers: Can listening to music improve productivity?

Impact of music on productivity

Music has become an integral part of our life these days.

Are you the kind of person who says, "My workday cannot progress without listening to music." or do you love to get the work done in silence?

Read till the end to find an answer. Surprise ahead!

Many research studies have been published about the effect of music on concentration, productivity, focus, and creativity.

Research presented in the 'national library of medicine' on background music in the work environment has shown that music with lyrics reduces our mental performance at work. In contrast, instrumental music could boost your productivity. Employees who listen to such music in the office are more productive, but they should also follow some guidelines so as not to disturb coworkers.

As part of this research, 102 participants aged 20-24 years, comprising fifty-six males and 46 females, were tested with background music, with and without lyrics, and its effects on listener concentration and attention using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) study.

Surprisingly, the results revealed that background music with lyrics had significant adverse effects on concentration and attention, especially while you are working under pressure.

The research findings suggest that music without lyrics is preferable if background music is played in the work environment because songs with lyrics are likely to reduce your attention and performance.

Now, are you in doubt about how listening to music is affecting your productivity?

Do be too quick to jump to the conclusion. Instead, read ahead, and you will know what the best option for you is.

Imagine your spouse or brother working in the next room is playing your favorite song aloud? You enjoy humming it along…And if he/she continues to play your favorite songs on and on, it becomes a distraction. Then the question of productivity comes into the picture.

Currently, when the world has gone remote, working without distractions has become tough for every employee. And this brings the serious challenge of employee engagement.

In this present situation, the companies are highly focusing on employee engagement. As a team member/leader it is your responsibility to keep employees engaged, it’s good to be open-minded to different sorts of avenues to keep people motivated.  

Must read: Myths about motivation every leader should know

What does science say about the impact of music on productivity?

A study by Sage journals found a decrease in performance while listening to "familiar vocal music." Listening to music that you know with lyrics or you understand can be distracting from the work.

Listening to catchy pop songs might even count as "multitasking," which has been shown to hurt productivity. Studies are as many as music genres, talking about listening to different music while doing different tasks.

A small study presented in 'science daily' found increased mood and concentration on a reading task while listening to Baroque music.

Another study presented in 'science direct' found increased productivity from background music while performing a repetitive task.

You may also like: 4 Negative Emotions Prevalent In Remote Employees That Need To Be Addressed Immediately.

Now before all these studies complicate your brain, let's understand what type of music is best for your work.

  • Background music has a positive effect when you are doing boring and repetitive tasks.
  • Listening to music while doing tasks requiring high degrees of concentration, such as a verbal or reading-comprehension test, can distract you from tasks and have negative effects.
  • Listening to nature's sounds lowers stress and improves mood.
  • If your work is primarily repetitive and boring, consider listening to up-tempo or complex music.
  • If your work deals with more creativity, do avoid music with lyrics you can understand, and switch to down-tempo music
  • If you are getting distracted or caught up thinking about the music, you can try swapping music with ambient nature sounds.

Most importantly, listen to what makes you feel good when you don't feel like working. Doing so not only wakes your brain up but also trains you to associate work with happy times.

A surprising fact you may not know

Right music not only has the power to improve your focus but also help you in team bonding .

Besides all the different genres of music having different effects on productivity, there are some other great benefits of listening to music in both remote or in-office workspace.

Almost 59 percent of employees connected more easily with co-workers or superiors who shared their tastes in music, and employers agreed – 65 percent connected more easily when tastes were shared.


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