Music in the workplace?

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office space

World Music Day. A day where over 100 countries come together to host a series of free music events for members of the public to enjoy. On the 21st June, more than 700 cities will take part to appreciate all that we love about music.

This got us thinking… If the modern workplace places so much emphasis on each and every aspect that goes into its design, what part does music and sound have to play? If music has the power to inspire, create and provoke emotion, why do so many organisations maintain a zero tolerance policy towards music?

Back in the 40s, music in the workplace was normal. In fact, the BBC had a show named ‘Music While You Work’, airing upbeat music twice a day in an effort to increase productivity.

Nowadays, noise reduction plays an important part in many office designs. The results of studies in this area however are somewhat blurred, with some suggesting that music containing lyrics act as a distraction. Ironically, similar studies report that incorporating music can increase staff morale by up to 77%!

Inevitably the response to music and sound in the workplace will differ depending on countless factors, including any significant cultural differences and the nature of the industry concerned.

Dr Anneli Haake of The University of Sheffield has carried out extensive research into the effects of individual music listening in workplaces in the UK. She states that, “Music could fulfil a range of important functions for employees, including providing relief from stress, and improving concentration.”

“Music could fulfil a range of important functions for employees, including providing relief from stress, and improving concentration”

Another new study suggests that it is ‘natural sounds’ which may hold the answer. Acting as a masking system, sounds such as flowing water allows people nearby to understand you, whilst at the same time rendering sounds beyond a certain distance unintelligible.

These sound masking systems could be the answer to improving cognitive abilities and productivity, in addition to providing the levels of speech privacy that the modern workplace demands.

If you have a concept or idea you’d like to discuss for your interior space, no matter how large or small, get in touch with us.

Posted June 9, 2015

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