We’ve all been told the conventional advice on enhancing productivity on the job: don’t multi-task, minimize interruptions, say no to meetings, set self-imposed deadlines, etc.
But what about the manipulation of environmental sound? Can improving work productivity really be as simple as playing certain types of music or sounds?
It turns out that both nature sounds and music have been found to have valuable effects at work.
Let’s begin with nature sounds.
The Acoustical Society of America presented findings demonstrating that employees 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 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 final results? The staff performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more optimistic about the environment and the task.
The nature sounds were also greatly preferred over the white noise even though white noise delivered an equivalent masking effect.
Here’s a playlist of soothing 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 beneficial effects on work productivity.
They found that listening to music in the workplace boosts mood and lessens anxiety, which brings about an emotional state conducive to elevated creative problem solving.
Participants that listened to music recorded better moods, produced higher quality work, and spent less time on each task.
Granted, the study was restricted to information technology professionals, but there’s good reason to believe the effect is more prevalent.
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.
Which means the difference between classical music and hard rock is unimportant 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 smartphone or mp3 player?
If you have hearing loss, or are thinking about an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start boosting productivity at work.