Every day we interact with stimuli that affects our sensory experience. Think of all the sounds we continuously take in and have learned to process as background noise. We hear the bustling traffic and transportation sounds every morning on our commute to work; the sound of a coffee machine grinding and brewing our morning cup of Joe; even the incessant droning of a fan or air conditioner in our office or home has become a staple version of white noise. The concept of actually working around background noise may seem counterintuitive but has actually been proven to significantly improve focus and productivity. Ever notice how the sound of rain suddenly creates a calm zen to your mind? Or have you ever found yourself tackling twice as much work while sitting at your local Starbucks? The truth is background noise such as music or the sounds attributed to being in a communal atmosphere such as a coffee shop or coworking space can have profound positive impacts on your cognitive functioning, creativity and overall productivity.

One amazing and customizable outlet to try is listening to music! In fact, many offices have a speaker in their workplace or music therapy programs. Why? Music has proven to be paramount in not only diffusing stress in the workplace but also in drastically improving employees’ ability to tackle work faster and more accurately.  Here’s how:

Music Enhances Learning And Memory

Both listening to music and music therapy have proven to directly improve human cognitive functions such as memory, our ability to process information and our ability to perform a task.  The Mozart Effect states listening to classical music activates the left and right sides of the brain simultaneously, which optimizes learning and memory. 

Music Helps Focus Our Attention To Tasks At Hand

It’s pretty common for our minds to wander at some point during the workday. You may find that listening to music helps recenter your mind and improve your attention span. In fact, the Mayo Clinic cites that just 20 minutes of listening to music could help employees regain concentration on the task at hand when overwhelmed with work. Improved focus yields faster results and thus, greater productivity. The key is to listen to familiar music when you must focus on a specific task, as listening to either new or unfamiliar music could be more distracting. 

What is really fascinating is that different types of music are beneficial for different types of tasks! 

  • Classical, ambient or mediation music is ideal for concentration or linguistic tasks
  • Hip Hop music can improve focus on non-linguistic tasks
  • Trance dance music increases your speed while performing a mechanical task

Music Increases Work Accuracy 

If you find yourself more focused on what you are doing, chances are you will also be paying more attention to detail, creating more accurate work and better results. Similarly, research has revealed once again that different types of music affect our accuracy at work:

  • 9 out of 10 people who listen to ambient music are more likely to enter data accurately
  • Classical music improves accuracy up to 12 percent
  • Pop music improves accuracy by over 80 percent

Background Noise in Shared Spaces Boosts Creativity and Productivity

Another incredible opportunity to take advantage of is working in a community open office setting! According to Officevibe, 64 percent of coworkers are better able to complete tasks on time and 68 percent said they were able to focus better while coworking. 

Coworking spaces are so groundbreaking for today’s new workforce since they provide a designated space for focused work with like-minded people. Instead of working in silence, workers can be a part of an inspiring environment with other motivated individuals. This becomes a natural breeding ground for high energy and an environment rich with stimulating conversations. Not a bad thing to be hearing in your background while you work. The organic result boosts creativity and productivity.

It’s exciting to know now that there are real, incredible benefits to working alongside background noise and there are a plethora of options on how to do so. At the end of the day, we all must find what works for each of us. Maybe you prefer to find a nook in the casual setting of a coffee house while sipping on your favorite iced latte. The novelty of seeking out new places to work will also boost your productivity since our brains thrive on new experiences and new sensory to process. So the next time you feel slowed down at work, try a new venue, a new song or a new routine; you never know what newly discovered “noise” may be your jam. 



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