Tunes for the Job – Choosing Music to Work to

By Jane Kennelly, Director, Frog Recruitment

So you have the office stereo plugged in, amped up, and ready to go. You set it to your favourite golden oldies station and get ready for some foot-tapping goodness. But the person sitting next to the stereo can’t concentrate, and Mrs. Robinson is being described by some as something other than ‘dear’. This all too familiar scene is repeated in workplaces all over the globe. What to do?

With most office discussions of what music to listen to, the frequency invariably falls on Classic Hits. While some happy with this option, cruising through the workday with the Beatles and the Bee Gees may not be the best for everyone. But does rocking out to the oldies boost productivity?

It depends – Psychological studies have revealed a mixture of results with no conclusive evidence. It seems that it mostly depends on the type of work being performed and personal preference. Below is a nifty infographic which may help you decide on some tunes according to your occupation:

Music Infographic
What music should you listen to on the job?

Some suggestions that we can identify with in the Frog office include listening to music in major instead of minor keys (i.e. happy instead of sad – think of receiving calls from depressed sales people). Tunes with fewer words also help us get in the ‘zone’, as they tend to be less distracting and overall more agreeable.

While some of us would absolutely adore spacing out to baroque or classical music, others consider listening to this music a type of torture. The ‘Mozart effect’ is a series of research results finding the listening to Mozart can increase certain types of reasoning skills and while this may be good for technical or methodical work, but we find that for dynamic and people-based work it may not be so good.

If you don’t have a stereo in the office (or control of the stereo), there are some clever websites you can use to get your groove on, such as 8tracks, Grooveshark, Pandora, and Last.fm. These websites allows you to create playlists and generates recommendations based on what you listen to – it’s like having your own personalized radio station! The downside is that you would probably have to listen through a pair of headphones, which doesn’t help if your occupation requires a lot of interaction.

What if you’re not in a musical mood, but want to escape the office noise? There’s something for you too – programs such as Chatter Blocker recreate generic sounds such as bird calls and soothing oceans to help get you on a productive wavelength.

The best advice we can offer (and can find) is just to do what works for you. For the time being Classic Hits isn’t doing any collateral damage and Mrs Robinson does, on occasion, cause a few head to bob up and down.

Move like Jagger baby!

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