We’ve all read the routine advice on raising productivity at work: don’t multi-task, limit interruptions, say no to meetings, establish self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the manipulation of environmental sound? Can improving work productivity really be as straightforward as playing certain types of music or sounds?
It turns out that both music and nature sounds have been found to have positive effects on the job.
Let’s begin with nature sounds.
The Acoustical Society of America presented findings indicating 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 a variety of 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 staff members performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more optimistic about the environment and the job.
The nature sounds were also much preferred over the white noise even though white noise presented a similar masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of calming nature sounds for you to try out yourself.
If nature sounds are not your thing, research from the University of Windsor demonstrates that listening to music can have similar positive impacts on work productivity.
They found that listening to music on the job boosts mood and lessens stress and 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 spent less time on each task.
Granted, the study was restricted to information technology professionals, but there’s reason to believe the effect is more widespread.
What type of music was found to have the largest effect? It turns out that the category is less relevant than the positive emotional reaction it evokes in the listener.
Which means the difference between classical music and heavy metal is trivial provided that the music improves your mood.
Did you know that several hearing aid models enable you to stream music straight to the hearing aids from your phone or mp3 player?
If you have hearing loss, or are contemplating an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start boosting productivity at work.