The Pulse

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When you hire someone to do a job, you want to be sure they are focused and committed to the task. While personal devices can often be seen as a distraction in the workplace, there is plenty of research to show music can have a big impact on focus, engagement, productivity and morale. So should your business create a culture where listening to music on your personal device is accepted, or even encouraged? Before you decide, let’s explore this question.

If you’re the kind of person who listens to music while you clean or drive, you might know just how beneficial it can be in helping you power through mundane or repetitive tasks. This same boost in spirit and productivity can be applied to work situations as well. If you need an energy boost, or simply some time to zone out and decompress while you complete a menial task, listening to music while you work makes a lot of sense. That isn’t to say it’s a perfect solution – putting in headphones can create a social barrier between coworkers and make the listener less approachable. The alternative is playing music out loud, but this can also prove to be bothersome to those who find music distracting. Do the pros outweigh the cons?

Depending on the kind of work you do, the answer might just be yes. For example, The Telegraph found that 88 percent of workers surveyed who did data entry, solved math problems or proofread documents found themselves working more accurately while listening to music, and 81 percent answered that music made them work more quickly. Other studies have found as little as 15 to 30 minutes of listening to music helps the listener regain concentration. Music stimulates the hippocampus, an area in your brain that controls memory and recall. Improving memory, concentration and productivity all sound like great reasons to allow music in your workplace, at least in some capacity.

Music in the workplace is also a great way to be an ally for your employees and their mental health. Everyone deals with stress, and for those with chronic mental illness, music is known to reduce anxiety symptoms and increase motivation. A CBS News study found that 61 percent of individuals who listen to music at the workplace “reported being happier, not just at work, but with life in general.”

Allowing music in the workplace can seriously benefit your business by improving productivity and your employees’ frame of mind. While there can be potential drawbacks, it might be worth finding strategies to include this as an option in your office.

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