As you read this, you may have your headphones on listening to a playlist; workers outside your window might have the radio blaring; you could be sitting in a bustling café; or you might simply be enjoying the silence in your office.
Do you think that you would approach reading and – more importantly – working differently if you had music on at full blast as opposed to being in a room so quiet that you could hear a pin drop? Let’s look at whether music in the workplace really is good for every worker.
For a number of years, people have thought that music boosts morale and productivity; however, this is dependent on the type of music and for how long it is played. Students, for example, are often encouraged to listen to classical music to help with their concentration whilst writing essays, while muzak is set to rally workers with short bursts of slowly-climaxing music.
Is music while you work really beneficial and, if so, does the same type of music work for everybody in the same way?
Music has certainly made a return to offices. PRS for Music, which gathers royalties for the music industry, claims to have granted 27,000 licences to workplaces across the country in 2016 – a rise of eight per cent compared with the previous year.
Although it is illegal to broadcast music without a licence in a place of work, there are no doubt many more small offices that partake in a bit of music-playing from time to time.
Zone, a digital agency with an office in the capital, states that music is a huge part of its employees’ lives both at work and outside the business.
The chief operating officer, Karen Byrne, is grateful for music in the office, as it means that fewer members of staff are shutting themselves off from the rest of the office with headphones on.
Other companies recognise that music increases productivity for many of their workers; however, they do not feel it is fair to force it on those who do not like to work with noise.
With Zone said to play harmonious music when productivity is high and increase the tempo when work appears to be lagging across the workforce, it seems that there could always be one group of workers at a disadvantage; for example, if they work well to harmonious music but some of their fellow colleagues do not and thus fall behind, they are forced to work through a period of fast and thumping music, which could affect their concentration.
If companies are going to play music in office spaces, it seems only fair that this is done in communal areas where staff can enter and leave as they wish.
Taking a short tea break and hearing some inspirational music could be all it takes to get some workers back on track and would be better received than having music forced upon them at their desks.
Staff might then like to be given the opportunity to choose songs from a predetermined playlist, taking it in turns to listen to what they like to hear.
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