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We’ve all read the standard advice on elevating productivity at work: don’t multi-task, limit interruptions, say no to meetings, establish self-imposed deadlines, etc.

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

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

Let’s start with nature sounds.

Nature Sounds

The Acoustical Society of America presented findings indicating that employees 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 assorted 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 final results? The workers performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more optimistic about the environment and the job.

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

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

Music

If you’re not into nature sounds, research from the University of Windsor shows that listening to music can have similar beneficial effects on work productivity.

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

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

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

What style of music was revealed to have the largest effect? It turns out that the category is less relevant than the positive emotional response it evokes in the listener.

That means the difference between classical music and heavy metal is trivial provided that the music improves your mood.


Did you know that a variety of hearing aid models allow you to stream music straight 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 maximizing productivity at work.