You’ve probably heard about the experiment where they proved that corn grows better if it’s “listening” to classical music. The control group of plants that was “listening” to noise withered up and died.
But what about Homo Sapiens? Do people work better when music is being played in the workplace, or not?
It’s A Complex Question
To play or not to play – that is the question.
The question is actually a bit more complex than it appears on the surface. And actually, it breaks down into a number of sub-questions:
- Does music make me more productive or less productive in doing my assigned task?
- Does my music distract my co-workers and make them less productive?
- Does wearing headphones appear unprofessional in an office setting
Here is a video showing how music does make you more productive at work.
The “Golden Rule” of Office Music
The “golden rule” governing all of these questions is quite logically, “What does the boss think?” Maybe better referred to as “the rod of iron.” If your company has a written policy about music in the workplace then there’s your answer. Case closed.
But if there’s nothing written, then what. Should I just start wearing my headphones and see if anybody complains. Probably better to check with your supervisor first. No sense in picking an unnecessary quarrel.
Guidelines for Listening to Office Music
Well, let’s say there’s no written policy and your supervisor doesn’t care. Is it then a matter of personal preference?
Not exactly. There are still some other factors to consider. What are the pros and cons?
Here are some guidelines:
- Soothing elevator music is generally more likely to enhance productivity than constantly being distracted by the words of a song.
- Keep the volume down even if you’re wearing your headset. Lower decibels is less distracting for both you and your co-workers.
- Stay alert for movement in your cubicle. Somebody may actually want your attention.
- Consider your job description. If you’re in customer service or frequently on the phone, it’s probably not a good idea. But if you’re a writer or a programmer, good chance listening to music will work well for you.
- Don’t join in on the chorus and try not to gyrate to the beat – someone might think you’re having a seizure and call 911.
- Consider just using music occasionally — when you need the mood boost.
- Employers need to consider legal and licensing issues and the possible need for a Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) or Performing Rights Society (PRS) license.
To sum it all up, music can be a productive factor in the workplace. It can stimulate creativity and reduce boredom, and ramp up motivation. Those are all good things. But don’t neglect the all-important company policy if it exists and be sensitive to your fellow employees. If all that checks out then by all means — let the good times roll.