Listening to Music at Work: How to Avoid Annoying Others

By Robert Half March 7, 2016 at 6:30pm

Stress seems to follow us everywhere — while we're dealing with our coworkers, meeting deadlines, trying to hire good employees, pleasing our bosses. But surveys show one way accounting and finance professionals combat stress is by listening to music at work.

Listening to music can help you focus instead of getting frustrated as you approach that next financial reporting deadline. “Thinking in music” can also help you come up with new ideas on the job, because it sparks innovation. That's what it seems to have done for Albert Einstein, who once said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music.”

The question isn’t so much whether you listen to music at work, but how. And what do your coworkers think about the activity?

Tips for listening to music at work

As you don your earbuds or headphones, 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.

Perhaps more than anything, listening to music in the workplace can give you a shot in the arm as powerful as any espresso.

Need some music to get pumped?

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!

Do you need more than music?

If the music can't get you through the workday, that could be a sign you need a job that's a better fit.


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Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2014 and has been updated to reflect current information.

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