We all have go-to playlists for boosting our energy during a workout or getting us pumped for a night out. We know that music can brighten our mood when we feel down. Music can calm anxiety, as well as energise us. Many people use background music to help them sleep.
Listening to music can boost your productivity and improve cognitive performance too. Music can soothe the mind, increase motivation and encourage us to think creatively.
Given that music can bring calm, energy, positivity, motivation and clarity of thought, it seems that background music certainly has a place in the workplace.
However, there is an art to productivity-boosting music selection.
Getting office music right
Enforced office-wide music may increase worker productivity (as many studies have shown), however, it can also be a recipe for office arguments and disgruntlement. Not everyone likes the same music, and not everyone will work well to the same music.
Allowing employees to choose their own music, and wear headphones when they listen to it, can be a way around this problem. Letting employees listen to their own music allows for personalisation and cordial office relations.
Office music and standing desks
As well as boosting productivity and office morale, music can also help improve employee health. Pairing a good office playlist with a quality standing desk can be great for efficiency and physical and mental health. An upbeat track is sure to get the office on its feet!
Tips for creating the perfect office playlist
Whether you decide to let employees choose their own music or create an office-wide playlist, here are some handy tips for crafting a productivity-focused playlist:
#1 Start with the slow stuff
Any work playlist should be constructed with the order of the working day in mind. Starting off with 3-4 tracks which will help you to settle into work is a great way to begin. Good transition music might be mood-boosting, calming or stimulating.
Avoiding pop chart hits, musical numbers and anything high-intensity is advisable at this stage. This will help employees start their day in a calmer frame of mind, with the headspace to carefully plan out their working day for maximum productivity.
#2 The power songs
As your working day kicks off, you might want to increase the tempo to boost your mood and productivity. Songs paced at around 121bpm have proven to increase productivity, so think empowering, upbeat pop or punchy rock.
Music which activates the mind, boosts confidence and helps to motivate us can be useful especially near the start of the day, before important meetings, at transition points, and at the end of the day.
#3 Add in a concentration boost
As powerful as power pop can be, you don't want a solid 6 hours of exhilarating anthems.
When deep concentration is needed - like when reading or working with complex data - your musical needs will change. And so should your playlist!
Classical music, nature soundscapes and instrumental music all offer mind-boosting background sound, uncluttered by distracting lyrics. You also won’t notice the gaps between songs, as each sound flows into the next.
If you do go for something with lyrics during the deep concentration phase, choose repetitive, simple or subtle lyrics, like those in acoustic folk music.
#4 Tackle midday monotony
Repetitive tasks also require their own music style. When we complete monotonous tasks, our moods need a boost and our minds need some distraction. This might be dull paperwork, assembly line-type tasks or organisational tasks like stacking shelves. Whatever tasks you complete which make your mind feel slow and uninterested are the ones that need special attention.
This is really where personalisation is important. To beat the monotony, you need songs that you love, that never fail to boost your mood and can occupy your mind.
You might go old school and listen to songs from your childhood, or perhaps revisit your love of musicals. You might listen to your favourite movie soundtracks or summery pop hits from across the decades. Whatever you choose, if it makes you want to sing along and bop around the supply room you have chosen well.
#5 Upbeat Ending
End the working day on a high. Choose something upbeat to get you through the last tasks of the day. Selecting music which complements your evening or weekend plans can help you whizz through to clocking-off time. Perhaps you will be seeing a show, planning to watch a beloved film, or seeing a friend. Music can help you to recall positive memories and look forward to future experiences.
Time for silence
While music has so many benefits which can help to boost productivity in the workplace, there are moments in the work day that need silence. Beyond the obvious ones like in board meetings and during important video calls, there are some tasks that require undivided attention and are not suited to musical accompaniment.
Spending your breaks talking to your colleagues can also be as beneficial as listening to music. Equally, team-based tasks often get off to a better start without music so as not to deter necessary communication.
Find the music to suit every moment and mood of your working day and you will see your playlist-making efforts rewarded with productivity and cognitive performance benefits.