Music while working? A bit of cheerful dance music can set a kitchen on fire, light classical music can give comfort to the dead silence in administrative services and in a tire centre the music blasts through the speakers. But is listening to music while working a good idea? Isn’t it distracting? Studies say no.
Headphones are the new office walls
Silence is not a good stimulator for creativity, it seems. Soft background sounds stimulate our mind. An inquiry of professor Ravi Mehta (University of Illinois, 2012) has shown that too much silence almost doesn’t stimulate or not at all and too much noise disrupts our concentration.
Our performances are at their best when we work with ambient noise beneath the 70 decibel. We don’t even have to listen to the music that is playing. Sounds like the murmur of the sea, whale sounds or the soft tapping of raindrops can stimulate our concentration. Even arranging a meeting at a pub is not a bad idea: for instance if you are in an impasse with your company, it’s not the best choice to lock yourself up in a quiet room to find a solution. Go outside and seek a public area to do some brainstorming. According to Professor Mehta our capacity to solve problems in a creative way improves by distraction as a result of sounds. Also it opens our minds to use new methods and products.
A better mood by listening to music
The Swedish researcher, Dr. Anneli Haake also reached a positive conclusion: an inquiry of 300 employees of The University of Sheffield showed that most of them were listening to music while doing their job. Their motives for it were various: to improve the mood, to maintain longer while doing boring tasks, to cut themselves off from the outside world, to prevent stress, to be able to work more concentrated.
This conclusion seems not bound sectorial: even surgeons get benefit out of a bit of music. An American study under guidance of Andrew Zhang, shows that surgeons who work while listening to their favourite music, are 7 % faster than when they do not. Experienced surgeons would work even 10 % faster. Not only the efficiency increases, but also the quality. An inquiry (Music, an aid to productivity, Fox/Embrey) of 1972 (!) already showed that factory workers were working harder if a cheerful, whipping musical number sounded through the speakers. But it is nevertheless better to avoid music with too much text in it, because it distracts us. So, no Bob Dylan or Eminem.
Nothing but advantages? You must nuance that: listening to music together expands the togetherness, not the isolation with earphones. People who isolate themselves from the outside world, isolate themselves also from their colleagues. This can’t be the purpose: you could miss telephone calls, you could not hear your boss if he needs you or you could not hear the fire alarm. It‘s up to the employer to decide in advance if ‘the solitary listening’ is allowed or not.
Article source: Sven De Potter, vacature.com