Within the scientific community, the jury remains divided over whether or not music can increase workplace production
Many workers feel that they need to listen to music in the workplace to enhance their production. Others feel skeptical, and worry that music can become a distraction that hinders workflow. Understandably, employers simply would like to know what exactly can increase production. They want to know if music is a hindrance or a useful tool.
As employees are not mechanical robots, there is no single black and white way to program a human being to be more productive. Everyone’s brain wiring is as unique as a fingerprint, and this is an indisputable scientific fact.
Therefore, what will be useful to one person to be more productive, could be a hindrance to the person sitting at the desk beside them. One worker will become less productive in an environment without music. Yet another worker will be less productive if they feel overwhelmed by extra noise.
Conflicting research as human minds are not uniform
Neuropsychologist, Dr. David Lewis, in conjunction with a team that included a physicist and a neuroscientist, released a study recently that showed that 9 out of 10 people’s production improves when listening to music.
Lewis explains “music is a very powerful management tool. If you want to increase, not only the efficiency of your workforce but also their mental and emotional state becomes more positive about the work.”
However, he emphasizes that different music genres are useful for different styles of tasks. On the other hand, Chris Bailey from The Productivity Project believes that it is not so simple.
Bailey emphasizes that in some situations, music could become a hindrance. Nevertheless, he admits that he is incapable of working without music. During an anecdotal experiment he performed on himself, he revealed that spending a week without music “was hell.”
He claims that he continually became distracted from producing work. He felt haunted by music regardless, in the form of earworms that he could not satisfy. Bailey did say, however, that shutting off music during demanding tasks was useful.
What are the pros and cons of using music to increase production?
Researchers proved in studies as far back as 1972 that music can definitely increase production. In this landmark study in Applied Ergonomics, scientists discovered that factory workers performed faster and more efficiently when upbeat and cheerful tunes played in the background.
On the other hand, studies have shown that people are more likely to perform poorly in tasks requiring the attention of the prefrontal cortex, i.e., learning new information and memorizing. However, an employees production in the above tasks will also suffer if they are continuously interrupted by phone calls or queries from colleagues.
Even so, the conclusions in the above studies are not so cut and dried. Creative people, for example, suffer from having more overactive brains. Both the left and right sides of their brain fire more frequently. The same is the case for individuals with ADD or ADHD. Additionally, every environment contains noise.
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