Work to the Beat: How Music Makes the Workplace Better

Whether it comes down to blasting the latest chart-topping pop tunes or keeping it to strictly classical melodies, the pros and cons of playing music in the workplace are often up for debate. Is it nothing more than an annoying distraction? On the contrary, there is overwhelming evidence to support the view that playing background tunes in the office is great for productivity and the overall wellbeing of workers. (Take that, party poopers!)

A recent study has discovered that nine out of ten workers work better when listening to music. The same study, conducted by Mindlab International and headed by Dr David Lewis, also found that 81% of people work faster when music is playing and 88% of people work more accurately.

Productivity aside, perhaps the most important finding from this study is that people generally reported feeling happier at work when there was music. Now that’s something to celebrate, but what kind of music is best for your workplace? As anyone who has suffered through hours on end of Christmas carols at work can tell you, it’s not so much about whether there’s music playing, but it’s the kind of music you’re hearing that makes all the difference.

The Best Music Genres for Workplace Productivity

Pop Music

Here’s something lip-synching drag queens have known for decades: pop music empowers people! Ever the great equaliser, pop was found to be best for working quickly and accurately. The genre was found to be the greatest motivator for spell-checking quickly (cutting mistakes by 14%, compared to music-free workplaces) and along with dance music, it produces the fastest overall performance.

Classical Music

A genre that has long been popular with medical surgeons completing long and arduous operations, classical music was found to improve accuracy by 12%. The measured rhythm of classical music is known to be calming, and workers were found to be better at solving mathematical problems when swaying along to old timey tunes than nothing at all.

Dance Music

It would appear this high-tempo genre has a useful life outside of the flashing lights of club dance floors! Dance music resulted in the fasted performance across a range of work tasks; people who listened to it were more accurate at spell-checking, solving equations and tackling complicated mathematical word problems. Proof-reading speed was also increased by 20%.

Ambient Music

 Popular with massage parlours and meditation circles, ambient music was found to improve the accuracy of data-entry and lead to the highest level of accuracy amongst people completing tasks involving equations.

Before you go dismissing that co-worker who is always blocking out the world with a set of headphones, it might be time to march to your own beat and try out some musical persuasion in your workday!