music in the officeWith apps like Spotify and Pandora at our fingertips and the ease of downloading off services like iTunes, listening to music at work is simpler and more accessible than ever! But is it really helping workers stay productive, or has it become a big distraction? It depends!
According to Fast Company*, listening to music has two big benefits. First, it can help make repetitive tasks easier. If you have an everyday task that does not require a lot of thinking or creativity, pop in the headphones! The second huge benefit is that music can be “an escape” while working in a noisy environment. If you work in an open office setting, blocking out the distracting conversations and noise around you via headphones can help you stay focused.
However, according to the same article, you should not listen to music when you are trying to learn something new. Participants to a recent study who listened to music while learning complicated tasks had a more difficult time recalling the processes than others who did not.
The article’s author also recommends that while doing “immersive tasks,” you listen to music you’re familiar with or that does not have lyrics, like classical music. New music with lyrics may end up distracting you.
So should you listen to music at work? Yes, if it helps keep you focused! But before you play your favorite song, remember these etiquette tips: 

  • If you work in an open space with others, put headphones in, but leave an earbud out in case a teammate needs your attention.
  • Try not to wear headphones all day, as it might seem like you’re trying to isolate yourself.
  • Don’t hum, tap your foot or drum along, as this can quickly become annoying to your neighbors.
  • Want to play music out loud in a public space? Get a consensus from everyone around.
  • If you have your own office, shut the door and keep your music low, so others don’t hear it.
  • Follow the rules. For example, if IT asks you to not stream music because it hurts Internet speeds, don’t stream music.

Have additional insight to share? Leave a comment!
*Gregory Ciotti, “How Music Affects Your Productivity,” Fast Company,