We’ve all heard the routine advice on improving productivity at work: don’t multi-task, limit interruptions, say no to meetings, set self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the modification of environmental sound? Can increasing work productivity really be as straightforward as playing particular types of sounds or music?
It turns out that both music and nature sounds have been found to have favorable effects in the workplace.
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 multiple 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 workers performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more optimistic about the setting and the job.
The nature sounds were also greatly 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 test 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 found that listening to music at work improves mood and lessens anxiety, which brings about an emotional state conducive to enhanced creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music described better moods, created higher quality work, and spent less time on each task.
Granted, the study was confined to information technology professionals, but there’s reason to believe the effect is more prevalent.
What kind of music was found to have the largest impact? 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 a variety of 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.