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Music or No Music: What works best for an office environment?

General information October 29th 2021
Music or No Music: What works best for an office environment?

Does music help or hinder productivity? If you’re trying to work out if playing music in the office is a good idea or not, it may be worth doing some research before installing speakers in the ceiling and blasting out your Spotify office playlist.

In this blog we look at the positives and negatives of playing music in the workplace, the necessary permissions you need to play music and why some employees may prefer to wear headphones.

Music in the workplace has the potential to create a more upbeat, energetic, and positive environment. This in turn helps to make employees feel more engaged and foster stronger connections with colleagues or clients. Music has the potential to make the workplace more enjoyable for everyone.


music is subjective and everyone’s tastes are different, and the office environment can quickly descend into musical chaos if a certain style is played.

One way to alleviate this is to pick music that’s generic such as classical music or jazz. Collaborations or covers are often a good way to combat this because they have a larger cross-appeal…such as Mark Ronson's ‘Uptown Funk' featuring Bruno Mars or Adele’s 'Make me feel my love' by Bob Dylan, you get the picture.

For those who aren’t fans of either Mark Ronson or Adele and wince at the idea of being subjected to easy listening, classical or jazz music before the first coffee of the day then we have some good news for you.

Playing music through speakers in the office workplace is illegal.

Playing music through speakers in the office is illegal unless you have the appropriate license.

The Music License from PPL PRS allows a business or organisation to legally play music for employees or customers through the radio, TV or other digital devices (including hold music on phone systems) it also covers live performances of music.

The license is in place to ensure songwriters, composers and publishers get paid because they own the copyright to the music. The license fee is then distributed back to the copyright owners. Fair enough.

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If, however you have the license in your workplace you can start to consider the benefits of playing music in the workplace office and there are plenty of them.

Mindlab International carried out a study and have uncovered several reasons why there is a connection between music, productivity, and well-being wellbeing and they are:

1. Music helps to keep people focused

The positive effects of music in the office are endless.

The study uncovered that:

88% of people surveyed who listened to music at work performed better – and more accurately – on their assignments and tasks than those who did not have music as part of their workday.

2. Music can reduce stress and anxiety

If ‘music soothed the savage beast’ as the saying goes, then it could help Tim in accounts lower his blood pressure preparing his end of year accounts. Classical music has been proven as one of the best ways to help employees unwind from the challenges they face outside the office.

3. Music can increase motivation

When people have exciting music to listen to in their workspace, they become more excited about coming to the office which, in turn, leads to more focus and greater motivation to do the best job possible.

4. Music makes people happier at work

Another survey reported on CBS news found that 61% of those individuals who listened to music at the workplace reported being happier, not just at work, but with life in general.

Although we can clearly see the benefits of music playing in the workplace (with the correct licensing) there will no doubt be a few who choose to wear headphones, which often causes a debate.

Some workplaces are not headphone-friendly. Some managers are opposed to their workers using headphones. They claim it is antisocial. Or it prevents them from reaching out to colleagues or managers.

Although some might see it as rude or antisocial there may be bigger issues at play.

Headphones are usually a response to a poorly designed and noisy workspace. Headphones allow workers to ‘Zone In’ to their work, cutting out ringing phones and chatty colleagues.

If you work in a noisy open-plan office and there are no office pods or office booths or quiet work zones to retreat to then headphones are the next best thing.

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Here are three more reasons why you should use headphones at work:

1. Less Interruption

When you put your headphones on, you’re setting an expectation that you are working and ‘in the zone’. People will be less inclined to interrupt you when your headphones are on.

2. Motivate Yourself

Music can be a great motivator. Music can help pump your energy, evoke great memories, and elevate your mood. It may be time to create that ‘Total Focus’ Spotify playlist.

3. Relax

Once you have smashed out your tasks and refrained from punching the air during your favourite crescendo – take a break. Although music is great for getting us fired up it works equally well when we need to take five minutes away from our office desks. Some offices have acknowledged this and have introduced sleep pods where workers cab can rest and recharge, with or without headphones.

There are a few things to consider when wearing headphones, especially when working near your colleagues because they may be able to hear that irritating tinny sound. Also wearing headphones when you are working on your own seems fine but when working in a team or in a meeting it’s not a good idea.

There is no doubt music is a good thing for those at work because music can create a sense of wellbeing in the office by putting people in a good mood. Music also helps us to concentrate on what we are doing, by suppressing distraction around the office.

It’s not for everyone though because some roles like call centre operators and managerial positions require less time ‘in the zone' and more time remaining connected to their colleagues.

One thing that is for certain – you will never find an office where everyone likes listening to the same type of music. Everyone has different tastes and preferences. There are playlists available online and on Spotify, which are specifically designed to be played at the workplace. If the conditions are right (music type, sound level etc.) a very positive outcome could be achieved.


Music is a great addition to the busy, friendly and productive office environment. It will bring a more positive approach to the monotonous tasks and will allow people to work in a less intense atmosphere.

There is some groundwork to consider such as the licensing and consideration of colleagues who prefer to work in silence but with communications, discussions, and feedback a happy chord could be struck.

Thanks for listening.

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