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We’ve all read the typical advice on raising productivity on the job: don’t multi-task, limit interruptions, say no to meetings, specify self-imposed deadlines, etc.

But what about the modification of environmental sound? Can increasing work productivity really be as simple as playing particular types of sounds or music?

It turns out that both nature sounds and music have been found to have beneficial effects in the workplace.

Let’s begin with nature sounds.

Nature Sounds

The Acoustical Society of America presented findings demonstrating that workers can get more done and feel more positive at work when nature sounds are playing in the background.

The study consisted of three sessions in the same room, where researchers had participants complete tests while listening to various soundscapes. Each session had a different type of sound playing in the background, as follows:

  • First session: office sounds muffled by white noise
  • Second session: office sounds muffled by nature sounds
  • Third session: office sounds with no masking noise

The results? The workers performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more optimistic about the setting and the task.

The nature sounds were also greatly preferred over the white noise even though white noise supplied a comparable masking effect.

Here’s a playlist of calming nature sounds for you to test out yourself.

Music

If nature sounds are not your thing, research from the University of Windsor demonstrates that listening to music can have similar beneficial effects on work productivity.

They discovered that listening to music on the job improves mood and lessens stress and anxiety, which creates an emotional state conducive to elevated creative problem solving.

Participants that listened to music recorded better moods, produced higher quality work, and devoted less time on each task.

Granted, the study was confined to information technology professionals, but there’s good reason to believe the effect is more widespread.

What style of music was found to have the largest effect? It turns out that the genre is less significant than the positive emotional reaction it evokes in the listener.

Which means the difference between classical music and hard rock is insignificant as long as the music improves your mood.


Did you know that a variety of hearing aid models permit you to stream music directly to the hearing aids from your phone or mp3 player?

If you have hearing loss, or are contemplating an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start enhancing productivity at work.