Working smart; that’s music to my ears!

(Written by Esme Banks Marr)

Here at the Magenta office, we have Bluetooth speakers and a Spotify account that everyone knows the log in for. It’s easy to play DJ when every device you have at your fingertips is capable of serenading colleagues.

mouse-583579As a result of this, we occasionally run into mild conflict. You see, not everyone wants ‘sad FM’ on a Friday afternoon and not everyone wants tropical house music on a Monday morning – who knew? Dance for award writing seems to have done the trick though, and an easy listening indie playlist for the day after a big team night out works wonders.

This is assuming everyone is ok listening to the same thing, at the same volume. We don’t usually have issues in this department, and easily find middle ground… also known as ‘the 80s’. It has to be said though; some tasks require you to take yourself completely out of the room. It is then that we find ourselves plugging in to our own devices and listening to our personal playlists.

Yesterday we pretty much all sat with earphones in, for one reason or another. We sat there separately getting on with making calls, listening to webinars or listening to focus playlists for most of the day. We’re a team of eight strong in the Brighton office – when we’re all in – so relatively small. I wonder if managers find this particular workplace behaviour difficult to manage though? Technically, they have no idea ‘where’ that employee is when they are in that private space between the noise-isolating headphones.

Chances are, of course, that employees are immersed not in their music but in their work – creative or otherwise. The highly concentrated privacy you can get being plugged in is both aural and visual; it’s a clear deterrent to those who might consider casually interrupting.

In increasingly open plan shared workplaces, employees can struggle to find that highly concentrative, highly stimulating and therefore highly productive space, without the availability of acoustic pods, meeting rooms or other physical enclosure – they resort to – music (or even no music) and their earphones.

mobile-616012Personally, I can’t stand silence in the office. The tapping of mac keyboards is a huge distraction (although I’ve been voted the loudest typist) for one. The sound of a computer mouse scrapping the desk can easily be ignorable one day, but unbearable the next. While music is probably the best answer, it is also mighty hard to keep everyone happy.

After some asking around and a bit of research, the following seems to provide a pretty good run down, if you get stuck:

Classical music: if your work involves numbers or attention to detail

Apparently it’s better for solving mathematical problems and improving accuracy and spell-checking.

Pop music: if your work involves data entry or working to deadlines

Pop music is supposed to be the best for speed when proof reading and spell-checking – great for just getting tasks done!

Ambient music: if your work involves solving equations

If your daily tasks involve lengthy equations – pop on some ambient music in the background, for high level of accuracy.

Dance music: if your work involves proof-reading and problem solving

It has been found that dance music provides the best overall accuracy and fastest performance across a range of work tasks. We can vouch for this one.

Next time you see your headphone-clad colleague nodding in time to a dance beat, don’t judge: they’re probably working better than you are!

Magenta Associates