Majority of Britons listen to music at work, poll claims

‘The music can function as a sort of white noise, cancelling out potentially distracting ambient noise,’ psychologist says

Alice Hughes
Monday 11 November 2019 19:44 GMT

The majority of Britons listen to music while they work, according to a poll.

Many put their headphones on as soon as they sit down in a bid to concentrate more, or block out colleagues’ conversations, the survey of 2,000 employees suggested.

A third of respondents said they work harder when listening to music, while two in five believe they get more done.

Almost half also claimed to feel less stressed with background melodies and more than a third said their productivity improves.

But the study, commissioned by Scala Radio, found while more than a quarter use music to block out their colleagues’ noise, a tenth do so to avoid silence.

The results come after an experiment saw four office workers given a 600-word task to complete to see how music affects their productivity compared to being in a silent room.

It found that when music was played, workers completed the task three minutes faster than they did with no background tunes.

Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman said: “Music has a really powerful impact on the brain, it affects mood and mental and physical performance.

“Many people find that listening to certain types of instrumental music can help them with their productivity levels.

“The music can function as a sort of ‘white noise’, cancelling out potentially distracting ambient noise.

“Provided the music has a calm, regular beat, it can actually help us to stay calm, reducing our stress, slowing our heart rate, and moderating our pulse.

“This makes it easier for us to focus on the task at hand rather than entering into ‘flight or fight’ mode, in which it can be very difficult to think clearly because of our elevated levels of adrenaline and cortisol.”

The poll suggested that of those who listen to music at work, six in 10 are based in an office, with 49 per cent either always or sometimes working from home.

More than two thirds of those who work from home said they would “struggle” to concentrate without having music on.

A quarter of home-based workers listen to classical music and 37 per cent said they find it easier to hear instrumental-only songs.

One in four workers opt for R&B to soundtrack their day, while more than a quarter choose rock.

Overall, 71 per cent of Britons who work at home listen to music throughout their day.​


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