In a corporate world where cubicles have been replaced by shared desks, the joys of learning your coworkers’ musical preferences have pushed the boundaries of TMI. To be fair, I’ve never understood how replacing cubicles with a shared desk is supposed to lead to a stronger work environment, frankly I just find it irritating that when I look up my neighbors are all wearing noise canceling headphones. Nothing says, “Laura, I don’t care what you have to say,” quite as much as a pair of cumbersome headphones that allow my across-the-desk colleague to stare at me with a deer in the headlights look. But I digress.
Music In The Office: Hipster Trend or Creative Genius Boost?
Across the globe, businesses are doing their best to emulate the Google and Facebook office environments, whereby the mentality of “if you have fun in the office, then you’ll never work a day in your life” is embraced. As an aside, I was told when writing this post not to make a crude “that’s what she said” joke, but as a millennial who grew up on both the U.S. and U.K. versions of The Office, I feel a special kindred spirit in Michael Scott. And so to quote the self-dubbed world’s best boss, “They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well that’s stupid because I love my job.” I mention this because in an effort to create a fun-loving office environment, many businesses have embraced music in the workplace, which leads to the question: hipster trend or creative genius boost?
As with many things in life, I find that a pros vs. cons list is best when tackling life’s great questions. Yes, in this case, office music is one of those questions. After all, there are only so many times that I can listen to my younger colleagues play “Oops I Did It Again” as part of the best of the oldies playlist.
Pros of office music:
- It’s a great way to build camaraderie, especially if new employees are encouraged to contribute to the daily playlists.
- Background music has been shown to increase productivity levels, which is particularly helpful when it comes to creating fantastic content marketing materials.
- Music is a natural mood enhancer that can also make people feel calmer.
- The right type of music can help employees retain focus on challenging tasks.
- Routine tasks can become less mundane when uplifting tunes are played, which can also reduce the errors associated with common administrative tasks.
Cons of office music:
- It can be incredibly distracting.
- The added background noise can increase the volume of conversations across the office.
- Visiting clients might not appreciate the soundtrack during their meetings.
- A robust sound system must be installed, so that the volume can be turned off in certain rooms.
- Chair dancing, while entertaining on long road trips, can be distracting and potentially hazardous to your health (says the woman who may or may not have spun out of her chair during a particular rendition of GRITS’ “Ooh Aah.”)
The Bottom Line: Do What’s Right for Your Company Culture
The moral of the office music story is simple: you must do what’s right for your company culture. Whether it is encouraging the musical silos of noise canceling headphones or embracing the camaraderie boosting office playlists, the right choice lays in your office environment. After all, many employees choose a workplace based on the associated company culture. If that culture is a toe-tapping, head-bopping, break out into random dance moves on the way to the office kitchen, then it seems you have your answer. But, if your office is more serious, or you simply don’t want to have a battle of the bands environment every day, then you might lean the other direction. Either way, the beat will go on and your employees will find a way to get the creative boost that they need throughout the day.
Laura P has written 4,000+ articles, blog posts, product reviews, press releases, and website content for a multitude of clients. In the past 7 years, she has developed written, marketing, video, and web content for clients in the real estate, information technology, restaurant, auto, retail, equine sales, oil and gas, and public relations industries. Laura is highly proficient in SEO optimization, particularly in real estate and retail industries. She ghost wrote IT white papers, government contract task orders, RFIs, and RFPs that resulted in millions of dollars won. She has 7-years of experience working with and interviewing olympic athletes, small-business owners, CEOs, SMEs, and entrepreneurs on complex topics. As a professional writer, Laura strives to create content that is both meaningful and relatable to her readers.