We’ve all been there; late in the office while the cleaner vacuums the corridor outside. The noise isn’t helping with the huge pile of paperwork, but wouldn’t it be better to avoid this situation all together? It’s probably no surprise that an upbeat tune can put a spring in your step, or that a power ballad can bring some people to tears, but just how much can music affect your office life? Before you get the urge to turn the volume up on the number one radio station in the hope that the music will do the magic, transforming your co-workers into relaxed and creative geniuses, think about:

Consistent noise:

It doesn’t take a genius to know that spontaneous or loud inconsistent noises create distraction: the phone ringing in the distance, the road works stopping and starting outside or someone talking loudly will distract us from our work. Background music helps all of these sounds flow into one to create a constant calm flow of sound.


When at the gym the beat of music sets a pace and reduces the risk of you becoming distracted from the monotonous task on the treadmill. In the same way, listening to music in the office improves your pace and keeps you motivated. Specialists, like Dr Theresa Lesiuk of the University of Windsor in Canada, have done extensive research into this area over the past decade. In one study she found that the speed of completing tasks improved with subjects who listened to music.

The genre:

Different people respond to different types of music in different ways. Just catching one employee with the wrong tune can send them into a fit of anger that can send shockwaves through the rest of the office. Whilst classical music makes some relax while working and soothes away any stress that’s building up on the inside, it can make others slip into an unproductive slump which I’m sure won’t help you hit your targets. Also, music with no lyrics is better as the language won’t distract you.


The same 20 tracks on a loop will drive your colleagues insane. Make sure that there is plenty of selection, but with a constant upbeat tempo so that the mood of the office doesn’t vary drastically.

Personal headphones:

It isn’t always appropriate for employees to use personal headphones but with music affecting each individual differently, they are without a doubt the best option. But if you need to resort to a communal sound system, make sure that everyone has a choice – what songs or radio station is played and how loud.