The Ins and Outs of Music at Work

Posted by Brooke Freeburg on Mar 5, 2015 11:35:00 AM


Does your mind tend to wander at work?  Do you lose focus, interest, and motivation at that 2pm slump on a daily basis?  Success at work is a result of productivity, engagement, and being passionate about what you do.  If you’re not feeling or acting these things, a jumpstart may be in order. 

In this digital age, there is very little you can’t find online at your desk or on your phone.  There is no shortage of digital music, news, books, and other media.  If sitting at your desk or cubicle while hearing the office around you buzz is distracting or making you lose focus, grab those headphones and get your groove back!

It has been said that melodious sounds release dopamine from the reward part of the brain.  This can be similar to eating your favorite treat or smelling your favorite scent.  Dr. Amit Sood of the Mayo Clinic says, “a wandering mind is unhappy”.  Music can help bring you back to life.  Teresa Lesiuk , an assistant professor of music therapy at the University of Miami adds, “When you’re stressed, you might make a decision more hastily; you have a very narrow focus of attention. When you’re in a positive mood, you’re able to take in more options.

Here are the ins and outs of music at work:

  1.  An open floor plan office without individual offices can put some in a more vulnerable state of mind.  They feel less productive and under more scrutiny in plain sight of co-workers and managers.  Music can create a sense of privacy and offer a sort of barrier to help focus on the task at hand.

  2. For Recruiters, sourcing is life.  Finding and creating a candidate pool is one of the most important parts of our job, though, it can get tedious and monotonous at times.  Sometimes it only takes 15 to 30 minutes of listening to music to regain your focus.

  3. What type of music is appropriate or best at work?  Keeping it familiar and ambient is the best way to go.  Music you know is less likely to demand more of your attention than is necessary.  Classical music, or music without actual lyrics, also proves to be a great option.  The sounds are consistent, repetitive, and often stay within a specific mood.  Work is NOT the time to try out that new band you heard about or explore the House Music genre when you’re a Country fan!

  4. Try not to listen to music with both buds in, or headphones on both ears.  In the event a co-worker or boss tries to have a conversation, you don’t want to seem like you are lost in the world of ‘80’s Love Songs’.

  5. Be respectful of your co-workers and the office.  Make sure using headphones or listening to music is permitted.  In a private office, keep the volume low and to a background noise setting. And regardless if you’re in your own office or in a group of cubicles, ALWAYS turn the music off when youre conducting a phone screen or on a conference call.

Now, this doesn’t mean to start jamming at your desk with a keyboard guitar or flying pencil drumsticks!  There are rules to follow - respect and consideration are important to consider.  Music is used to inform and improve all parts of life.  It’s a therapy tool, a rehabilitation aid, and improves analytical, vocabulary, and motor skills. 

If you’re new to the music-at-work idea, where should you start?  If you do not have your personal music collection on your work computer, here are some online radio recommendations:  Accuradio, Pandora, Shuffler, Slacker, and Spotify.  If you need station ideas, keep it relaxed and light.  Classical music is never a bad option, but most people don’t know how to approach it without getting lost in Mozart and Beethoven.  For Accuradio and Pandora users, try creating a station by ‘The Vitamin String Quartet’ or ‘The Piano Guys’.  This is classical music for the contemporary fan.

Also, music may not be the answer to your focus woes.  If you are not the music-at-work type, a solution may be as simple as an afternoon power snack or quick walk around the block.

Topics: Culture