What music should you listen to at work?

People often claim that they’re more productive when they have music on, and now research has confirmed that 90% of workers perform better when listening to music.

The study found that 88% of people produced their most accurate work and 81% completed their fastest work while music was playing.

“The take-home message is that music is a very powerful tool if you want to increase not only the efficiency of your workforce but also their mental state, their emotional state – they’re going to become more positive about the work,” Dr David Lewis, neuropsychologist and chairman of Mindlab International, who carried out the research.

In the study, participants were given a series of different tasks five days in a row. The tasks included spelling checking, equation solving, mathematical word problems and abstract reasoning and workers had to complete the tasks while listening to one of four musical genres or no music at all.

Interestingly, while some might claim that they can concentrate best in silence, the researchers found that participants made the most mistakes when not listening to music.

So, what kind of music should you listen to while working? Well, it depends on what your job involves.

Classical is the best option if your work involves numbers and attention to detail as the study found that accuracy improved on mathematical problems by 12% when listening to classical music.

If your job involves data entry or working to deadlines, you should reach for the pop albums as workers were found to be 58% faster at completing tasks when listening to pop music than in silence. Pop music was also found to be the best soundtrack to spell-checking quickly and, alongside dance music, the fastest overall for getting work done. It also cut mistakes by 14% compared to not listening to music.

You need some ambient music if your work involves solving equations as workers were found to have the highest level of accuracy for completing equation-based tasks when there was ambient music playing.

However, as a general rule, when dance music was playing, workers were found to have the highest overall accuracy and fastest performance across all the tasks. A dance music soundtrack improved accuracy in spell-checking, solving equations and tackling tricky mathematical word problems – and increased proof reading speed by 20%.

So next time you hear dance beats coming from your colleague’s headphones don’t judge them, they’re probably getting more done than you are.

What type of music do you like to have on while you work? Let us know in the comments below...

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