Having music as background noise when working in an office can be beneficial for some, but distracting for others.  Choosing to play music in your working environment comes with many factors to consider in terms of design, the industry you’re in, and personal preferences.

First comes the issue that not everyone’s going to have the same music taste – well, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have an office entirely full of ‘Beliebers’.  Choosing what to play from a speaker or what radio station to choose can cause conflict and some not being happy with the choice.

Generally, an office of millennials will probably opt for recent chart tracks or new-on-the-scene alternative/indie music. But of course that’s just an assumption.  A station like BBC Radio 1 or a local station may be best suited for an office of different ages, characters and tastes, as they tend to play a mix of genres and songs from a mixture of decades – not just the UK Top 40.

A quick-fix is to have a quiet office, with those wanting to listen to music to do so on their own accord through headphones, so it doesn’t bother anyone else. However a speaker in an office can often create a nice atmosphere among workers, creating a community and no one shutting themselves off from conversation or collaboration with earphones. There are pros and cons of all approaches.

But then there could be someone who passionately hates anything other than screamo-metal music, as it’s their taste and the only thing that motivates them to work. A solution for those not willing to work to a soundtrack of pop artists is for them to bring their own earphones and plug into whatever they desire.

It’s said having music on can also improve people’s productivity and motivation, the beats and continuous, structured nature of a song can often prompt concentration and momentum. Many like to listen to music to avoid the eerie, monotonous, and often boring silence.

A popular piece of advice often given to students revising for exams is to put some music on to increase concentration – whether it is to familiarise a piece of information with a particular song, or to again avoid the boring silent atmosphere. Constant changing of songs gives variation to your working environment, likely to make the space an animated and lively one.

Music also affects people’s moods – whether at work or not. Most people find enjoyment in music, and so by that logic, a musical office is a happier one. A good tune to get the office foot tapping and humming will lift those Monday morning blues, or mid-afternoon motivation-slump. Throw-back Thursday is bound to lift the office – everyone loves a bit of the Spice Girls, right?

While there are those who enjoy the tunes, or are neutral on the music matter, there are those who find music as a distraction. This may be a majority of the office, or just one or two people with this outlook.

This is why it’s often best to leave the installations of sound-systems/speakers specifically for music out of the design process in an office, as some may not require them and choose to work in a quieter atmosphere. Most places choose to simply bring in their own portable speakers to connect to a computer or laptop where required – it’s down to personal choice within a company.

Some buildings may have built-in speakers, linked up to display screens and televisions for use in presentations and so these can be multi-purpose for offices that listen to music all day, or simply used for their dedicated purpose for those who don’t.

For those outnumbered in their opposition to music, consider providing separate spaces in the building for them to work in, away from music if it really does affect productivity. Communal working areas or partitioned spaces without music may be a solution to suit everyone and their music preferences; however this may affect the morale or relationships within a group of employees, similar to the earphone approach and problems it may cause, as mentioned above. But again this is entirely down to the type of company and the general consensus and preferences.

So, do you enjoy background music when working at your desk? Or do you reserve music for your lunch break or commute? Each employee’s work and concentration preferences are different, but music can be beneficial for some in an office environment.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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