Music in the workspace: benefits and obstacles

The revolution that office design is undergoing towards a much more human-centric approach translates into a series of strategic aesthetic decisions such as incorporating more greenery into the office, using large windows to allow for greater natural light, or creating open spaces that convey freedom to workers. However, sight is just one of the many human senses, and a true human-centric space also requires key auditory decisions. Soundproofing from the outside is one of them. The incorporation of music is another. Let's look at its benefits.

Benefits of incorporating music into the office 

Music maintains a very particular relationship with the human brain. As explained by the specialized portal Psychology and Mind, listening to music we enjoy triggers the release of dopamine, "a chemical substance associated with the sensation of pleasure and reward." This well-being, logically, promotes satisfaction in the workplace, which in turn has a direct impact on areas as relevant as motivation, creativity, or productivity. In this sense, companies that give their employees the opportunity to listen to music receive in return higher performance and, above all, greater retention of all that human talent.

But that's not all. As confirmed once again by recent research from the University of Vienna, stress levels decrease during musical listening. This translates into greater adaptability of workers to periods of high workload, better decision-making in pressure situations, and a lower percentage of sick leave due to mental illness. Furthermore, beyond the increase in creativity derived from emotional well-being, there also seems to be an additional increase simply from engaging with creative sounds. Or, put another way: art promotes imagination and fosters innovation.

And then there are the collective benefits. In those offices that not only allow private listening to music through headphones but also have general music playing throughout, there is usually an improvement in the work environment. Partly because music has the ability to influence the predominant emotional state of individuals, and through this system, all workers tend towards emotional synchronization. In fact, according to a study by Cornell University, "in work environments, music can have significant effects on the spirit of cooperation among people working in teams." It's a cohesive element.

Obstacles to overcome in order to enjoy these benefits 

One of the main obstacles to the productive incorporation of music in the office is the variety of human tastes: different people connect better with different types of music. And this demands a solution. One option is to forgo the incorporation of background music but allow private listening for each worker. Another is to select genres with less personality, such as soft instrumental music. From very calm jazz to ambient music, relaxing music, or motivating music for environments with a certain rhythm. In a sense, it's about finding the ideal music for both the company's personality and the individuals working in the office.

To do this, it's most convenient to consult with the workers and experiment until finding the right balance. This also sends a very important message to the staff: the company's concern for their comfort. However, it's not only about the type of music but also the volume. If it's too loud, it could be annoying, hinder concentration, communication, distract, and even increase stress levels due to overstimulation fatigue. The ideal scenario is for music to act as a subtle, pleasant background, comforting to the ears, much like beautiful views are for the eyes.

Ultimately, by taking the necessary measures to overcome these obstacles, the presence of music in the office can positively impact the overall performance of the staff.

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