|A study commissioned by Scala Radio found that many Brits “use music to block out their colleagues’ noise, a tenth do so to avoid silence.” / Photo by: Aleksandr Davydov via 123rf|
The appreciation of music at work is subjective for many people; some enjoy a good merry tune in their ears while doing their work, and some find they are better able to concentrate in utter silence. In a study by Scala Radio, it was found that many Brits at work enjoy the former and they use music as a way to drown out the noise in the office for two major reasons.
Blocking Noise, Avoiding Silence
A study commissioned by Scala Radio, a UK-based classical music digital radio station, found that many Brits “use music to block out their colleagues’ noise, a tenth do so to avoid silence.” According to Independent UK, an online newspaper, the occurrence of Brits filling their ears with music instead of workplace chit chat actually helps them “concentrate more.”
In their study, 2,000 employees were given a 600-word task to complete as a way to measure the effects of music at work. A third of the respondents touted music as something that helps them work harder, while two in five said they get more work done by listening to music at work. Additionally, more than half claim feeling “less stressed with background melodies” playing while they are working.
A third even went so far as to say that it is linked to the productivity of employees in the workplace. This is backed by the fact that when music was played, it was observed that more workers were able to finish their tasks three minutes faster than if their environment was completely silent.
Despite the fact that Britain is a nation consisting of a working-class comprised mainly of desk jockeys, the facts about the enjoyment of music while at “work,” whether or not one is office-based or home-based, seem to agree. Office-based or not, 49 percent of workers say they are always listening to music. Two-thirds of home-based workers say it’s actually more difficult to work without background music.
|In the study, a third of the respondents touted music as something that helps them work harder. / Photo by: lightfieldstudios via 123rf|
So they listen to music, but what music do they listen to? In another report by British news source Mirror UK on the matter, they found that one in four workers listen to R&B soundtracks, three in 10 listen to rock. These two genres are very effective with jobs--R&B music is typically very calming and laid back, while rock is often a sensory overload that has an unusually calming effect because of it. But a bigger portion of home workers say that they opt more for classical music, while some 37 percent say that instrumental-only songs are the most optimal for them. In total, there are 71 percent of home-based Britons who listen to music throughout their day.
The Use of Music
A third of the employees say that their music-listening habits at work are more communal, while 36 percent of workers say they choose to listen to music all by themselves. Those who listen to music and keep to themselves often do it as a way to curate their own personal music selection without any outside input.
Individual listeners usually choose to listen to their music alone either to fill the silence when they are working at home (4 out of 10), or to feel less alone (28 percent). But almost half of the employees on both sides use music to pass the time.
Even so, communal music in the office is still a great way to keep alert and awake at work, so finds a survey by OnePoll, which recorded that 24 percent of workers feel more motivated than most.
To explain these habits, psychologist Dr. Becky Spelman explains that music in the background helps us remain calm and improves our mood and mental performance due to the patterns we identify in music.
“Provided the music has a calm, regular beat,” Spelman explains, “it can actually help us to stay calm, reducing our stress, slowing our heart rate, and moderating our pulse. This makes it easier for us to focus on the task at hand rather than entering into ‘flight or fight’ mode, in which it can be very difficult to think clearly because of our elevated levels of adrenaline and cortisol.”
According to a report by business news source Business Insider, some companies have even utilized the use of music in a workplace to try and take advantage of this effect. A company has started using an app called Focus@Will, an app that produces what is called “streamlined music” that is “designed to be listened to while you’re working on something to improve mood and productivity.”
Of course, whether or not the person likes the music is also important, because Teresa Lesiuk, an associate professor of music education, said that when people do play music that they prefer, they more likely have positive moods that help their brain take in “more options” and thus become more open to “creative problem solving” and “thinking creatively” in general.