Listening to Music at Work: Does It Make You Productive?

By Robert Half September 17, 2018 at 7:15am

If you've ever wondered whether you should be listening to music at work, hear this: Most people enjoy it, and many say it makes them better workers.

Not all offices allow music, with or without headphones. An Accountemps survey shows 9 percent of the companies have policies against it. But for the respondents who are able to turn on the tunes at work, 85 percent of them extended a thumbs up, with pop, rock and country songs as their favorites. And seven out of 10 said they are at least somewhat more productive when music is playing.

Whether music lowers your stress in the workplace, helps you focus or just makes you feel good, you should make sure you're not driving your coworkers wacky.

So now the question is, if you're going to be listening to music at work, are there any guidelines you should follow?

Tips for listening to music at work

As you don your earbuds or headphones — which you should, by the way — keep these quick tips in mind:

  • Keep the volume low so only you can hear your tunes.
  • Take off your headphones from time to time to give your ears a break and let others know you’re available.
  • Make sure you're not rocking out so hard you can't hear the phone ring or someone calling your name.
  • Avoid songs with explicit lyrics, just in case others can overhear.
  • Save the air guitar and desktop drumming for home.
  • Find a better way to ask for a raise than by serenading your boss.
  • Don't distract your colleagues by singing, humming or lip syncing.
  • Only listen to online stations if it’s OK with your company’s IT team.
  • Create several playlists so you can match your music to your mood.
  • Above all, control your groove and keep the dancing to a minimum.

Do you need more than music?

If music can't get you through the workday, that could be a sign you need a job, office or industry that's a better fit. And this is where we tell you that we can help with that.

Get some music to get pumped

Perhaps more than anything, listening to music in the workplace can give you a shot in the arm as powerful as any espresso. Check out these songs the next time you’re looking for some musical inspiration. You can find them all on YouTube.

  • “We Will Rock You” by Queen
  • “Firework” by Katy Perry
  • “Let’s Get it Started” by Black Eyed Peas
  • “Out of the Woods” by Taylor Swift
  • “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

If you need something more relaxing, try these tunes:

  • "Wild World" by Cat Stevens
  • "Good People" by Jack Johnson
  • "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green
  • "Let It Be" by the Beatles
  • "At Last" by Etta James

Hey, who doesn't like a good love song!

Listening to Music at Work: Does It Make You Productive? — infographic with title: Pressing Play Increases Productivity with results from survey

PRESSING PLAY INCREASES PRODUCTIVITY

Employees were asked, “Does your employer have a policy about employees listening to music at work?”

44% Yes — it is allowed and there are no restrictions.
38% Yes — it is allowed but there are restrictions (e.g., workers must wear headphones)
9% No — it is not allowed.
10% I don’t know

(Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.)

Those allowed to listen to music at work were asked, “Do you like to listen to music at work?”

85% Yes
15% No

They were also asked, “Are you more or less productive at work when music is playing?”

39% Much more productive
32% Somewhat more productive
6% Somewhat less productive
1% Not productive at all
22% Has no impact on my productivity

Source: Accountemps survey of more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.

© 2018 Accountemps. Robert Half Company. An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/Disability/Veterans.

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