Mountain stream

We’ve all been told the standard advice on improving productivity on the job: don’t multi-task, limit interruptions, say no to meetings, specify self-imposed deadlines, etc.

But what about the manipulation of environmental sound? Can improving work productivity really be as straightforward as playing targeted types of sounds or music?

It turns out that both nature sounds and music have been found to have favorable effects in the workplace.

Let’s begin with nature sounds.

Nature Sounds

The Acoustical Society of America presented findings indicating that employees can get more done and feel more positive 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 multiple soundscapes. Each session had a unique 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 staff members performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more positive about the setting and the task.

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

Here’s a playlist of comforting nature sounds for you to try out yourself.

Music

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

They discovered that listening to music in the workplace improves mood and lessens anxiety, which brings about an emotional state conducive to elevated creative problem solving.

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

Granted, the study was confined to information technology professionals, but there’s good reason to think the effect is more widespread.

What style of music was revealed to have the largest 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 heavy metal is unimportant as long as the music enhances your mood.


Did you know that several hearing aid models permit you to stream music straight to the hearing aids from your smartphone or mp3 player?

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