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We’ve all read the standard 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 background sound? Can improving 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 valuable 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 optimistic 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 a variety of 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 environment and the task.

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

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

Music

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

They found that listening to music in the workplace improves mood and reduces stress and anxiety, which brings about an emotional state conducive to enhanced creative problem solving.

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

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

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

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


Did you know that several hearing aid models allow you to stream music directly to the hearing aids from your smartphone or music player?

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

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