How music can boost your at-home productivity

A few months ago, we shared a blog on the effects of music on workplace productivity, weighing up that age-old office dispute: music on or music off? Now, with many of us working from home, any office-dividing opinions on the true value of listening to the office DJ’s favourite tracks can be safely put to rest in the solitude of the home office.

But just because there’s no crowd pleasing involved, should we really be making the most of the opportunity to enjoy our favourite playlists? 

To understand the true effect of music on stay-at-home productivity, particularly in regards to the workday of a recruiter, we rounded up the main points to consider before you press play. 

Music helps us have a good – or better – time

There’s no doubt that music can have a positive effect on tasks we simply don’t love doing, whether that’s cleaning the house or repetitive tasks at our desks.

But just how effective music is is dependent on how “immersive” a task is – or put more simply: how much a task demands of you creatively. 

The research

When your work is more clearly distinguished with repetitive, smaller, more simple tasks, research from Applied Ergonomics suggests that music can be really helpful. 

The study reported that when observing the effect of background music during repetitive work, ‘music is effective in raising efficiency in this type of work even in competition with the unfavourable conditions produced by machine noise’ and the results gave ‘strong support to the contention that economic benefits can accrue from the use of music in industry’.

Furthermore, QZ rounded up just what’s going on in the brain during the tiring effects of repetitive tasks, citing that ‘when you listen to music you enjoy, the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, which makes you feel good, and reduces stress and anxiety’. 

The value of this is crucial, particularly when you consider the increased chance of loneliness and added pressures (such as difficulties with work-life balance) created by a significant percentage of the population currently calling their homes the office.

Ultimately, if we’re happier, remaining motivated while we get through repetitive tasks – and potential added pressures – is naturally easier.

More music, less distractions

Whilst it’s true that the office has its own array of distractions, for many of us, working from home means a brand-new set of challenges. Whether that’s working around your family or housemates, your pets or quite simply – the fridge, adjusting to create a productive space at home can be a challenge.

The research

A study conducted by Dr. Teresa Leisiuk, a professor in Music Therapy and Systematic Musicology, found that ‘narrative responses revealed the value of music listening for positive mood change and enhanced perception on design while working’, with the study showing that music allowed the subjects to complete the tasks more quickly and more creatively, with an improved mood. 

Mood again is a key factor in this, meaning that music can allow those with more introverted personality types, or those who prefer working without distractions, to work at their best regardless of environment.

Not every track is perfect

When thinking about music as a tool, it’s also pretty useful to remember that music is a vast expense of beats, genres and tempo – if music can help your productivity, not every track is going to do the trick.

The value of ambience

One of the first things to consider is the true value of ambience. A study by the Journal of Consumer Research that volume is pretty important. While moderate noise can get us in the zone, too much noise can be off-putting. 

Additionally, a second study by the Acoustical Society of America cited the value of “natural” sounds ‘to meet standards and criteria for speech privacy while enhancing cognitive functioning, optimising the ability to concentrate, and increasing overall worker satisfaction’. Time to get those jungle noises playing…

The value of lyrics

On the other hand, the value of lyrics really varies. For physical tasks, music with lyrics can have really great benefits. 

Alternatively, for intensive, thought-driven tasks, the opposite can be true, and a study by professors at the University of Turku found that 48% of participants listed intelligible talking as the most distracting noise. But for creative tasks, Lesiuk found that lyrics can actually help output.

What’ll work for me?

When weighing up what music works best, studies show that music you’re familiar with can be really beneficial, since you’re focussing on the task at hand rather than waiting to find out what comes next. 

But beyond that, it’s important to think about what tasks make up your day to work out if music is actually beneficial.

Music for recruiters

For a recruiter, the day is generally made up of searching for candidates and leads, as well as engaging with candidates and hiring managers. Whilst familiar music with lyrics may be useful while searching and formatting CVs, music without lyrics would be significantly better while writing emails or engaging in any intensive tasks. 

Tried and tested

Although music may not always be the most popular solution in the race for better productivity, studies have generally all given a big thumbs up to effect of classical music, with one particular study by the American Roentgen Ray Society citing finding Baroque-period songs to have a great effect on productivity (no surprises there). 

All in all, given the right choice of song, matched with the right task, adding a little more music to your workday could improve your mood and ultimately, boost your results. 

Looking for more productivity tools? Find out more about getting the most out of your CRM and candidate database here.

To read more about recruitment productivity frameworks, templates and habits, you can find the full guide here.

SourceBreaker’s Recruitment Productivity Hacks offers a conclusive guide to help you supercharge output, drive revenue and deliver a high-value service with maximum efficiency, everyday. 

This includes:

  1. Productivity Frameworks – A closer look at multiple popular strategies for effective overall time management & personal organisation. 
  2. Templates & Automation – Our guide to templates and automation to get the most out of your communication and minimise your repetitive tasks.
  3. Habits of Super Recruiters – The workday habits to get the most out of everything you do and change the way you work to get maximum results.
  4. Productivity Toolbox – A guide to the up-to-date tech tools you need to upturn your team’s overall efficiency.