Is music in the office a help or a hindrance?

Playing music in the office has been a bone of contentionfor decades. Some people swear by the motivating, feel-good effects ofbackground tunes, others need complete silence to focus, while a third group prefertheir own private playlist cocooned in headphones. The answer to the questiondepends on the company size and culture, as well as the type of work beingdone.

Striking a balance between disparate tastes can be a problemand is often solved by choosing music that no one likes, i.e. the radio. Thereis never going to be a simple answer to agreeing on something as polarising aswhat music to play in the office and one person’s bona fide classic isanother’s insolent noise. Some employees will find the speed metal of Slayerinvigorating and inspiring, others will find any type of music distracting.

A compromise of allowing different people to choose ondifferent days may still cause some grumbling, but at least it gives everyone asay at some point. Music is a personal thing; however, some people won’t acceptthe “variety is the spice of life” approach and the choice of music can becomea source of sniping and stress.

Additionally, it is important to keep the volume at theright level so it can be ignored if necessary and there will always be the needto make phone calls, have meetings, plus other instances where music isn’tappropriate.

A lot of the time it can be easier to simply have nocommunal music and allow employees to use their own headphones.

This is double-edged.

It may prevent tension regarding the volume or song choice,and it allows people to create their own concentration cocoon, but it doesn’tpromote employee togetherness, which is one of the main reasons for havingoffice-wide music.

If your employees find it necessary to wear headphones toblock out noise, then adding music to the mix probably isn’t the best approachand there may other aspects of your office’s culture that need addressing.

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