5 Ways to Incorporate Music into the Workplace

music in the workplace
Image by: visitorx
By Dexter Lunde

The effect of music on our psyche has been the topic of discussion for many years. Does music help us be more productive? Does it really hinder our creativity? Why does classical music help us concentrate? Or is that just an old wives’ tale?

Studies show that music can help you make repetitive work tasks easier. If you’ve got a task that is clearly defined (you know exactly what you’re supposed to do), music makes it more bearable (less boring) and can increase your efficiency while doing this task. Some would argue that it’s not the actual music that helps you but the fact that the music elevates your mood. When you’re happier, your work improves and you are more effective.

It can also drown out a noisy workplace. Being in a workplace that has noise which negatively affects your mood can affect your work performance. Studies have shown that participants that listened to music while in a noisy workplace came up with better ideas and finished their tasks faster than those who didn’t.

So how can you use this information to better help your team at work? Check out these ideas that will help incorporate music into your workplace.

#1) Ambient Noise

Some people don’t necessarily benefit from music but benefit from the ambient noise that is generated from the music that they listen to. Listening to something at a moderate noise level has been proven to get your creative juices flowing. So look for a mellow sound that you can give out to your team members.

#2) Music Library

Have a music library that is available to your team members. You can have an actual library (with the advent of mp3s and digital music – CD’s are getting cheaper), where you can house music that is has mellow sounds. You can also have a digital library that is available through a shared network.

The only issue with having a library like this is that there is a possibility that they will burn copies to take home (which is illegal, of course), so consider having them sign a document that says that they won’t burn and share copies.

#3) Lyrics Obliterate Focus

If you’re working on an immersive task, lyrics can be incredibly distracting. When you’re dealing with the language center of your brain in order to complete your work task and trying to listen to a song with lyrics, it’s the equivalent to trying to pay attention to two people talking at the same time. If you play music over the PA system or offer music to your team, make sure that you’re offering them music that doesn’t have lyrics.

That doesn’t limit your selection to just classical either. There are a lot of great instrumental albums out there for every genre: jazz, rock, pop, etc. That being said, Baroque classical has had a great deal of success when it comes to productivity studies. Don’t know much about classical music? Check out this video for an example of baroque music:

Electronic music (specifically ambient electronic music) is great as well. Ambient house is pretty great. You can also opt for video game music. It makes sense: after all you listen to that type of music while you’re focusing on the actual game. Check out the Sim City Soundtrack:

I’m pretty particular to working with OST (official soundtracks) of movies. Some people may find the various ups and downs of the music to be distracting. If you’re worried about what will work and what won’t work, try to test it out with your team and survey their results. If you want to consider a great soundtrack to play in the office, check out the OST to The Dark Knight (Hans Zimmer for the win):


#4) Sirius/XM

Having a radio station play in your office is great but the commercials are a pain and also distracting. So instead opt for a Sirius/XM satellite radio subscription. It’ll be a great morale boost for your team and you can even have certain stations that play on some kind of daily rotation.

#5) Not Necessarily Music

Just like some of us like to listen to the sound of rain or a babbling brook to help us relax, ambient sounds (that aren’t necessarily music) can help us concentrate. Take a survey to see which ambient nature (or other) sounds help your team the most. Alternate between their favorites.

Now it’s your turn. What type of music works best for you? Can you work to music or do you need complete silence? What about in your workplace? Do you work in a noisy workplace or do you work in a quiet atmosphere? Have some ideas on this topic? Write down your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.