Do Musical Offices Lead to Happier Workers?

January 25, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - Playing a few tunes in the office may make employees mellow out, but a careful choice of style and volume is critical, a U.K. university researcher maintains.

According to a news report from the Scotsman, University of Cumbria music professor Richard McGregor contends that playing office background music could lead to happier and more productive workers. Music can make the day seem shorter, keep spirits high, and reduce the number of stressful situations that can occur in a professional setting, McGregor claims.

But don’t put on the head-banging national anthem calling for a worker revolution and crank the volume knob all the way up.

“There’s clear evidence that a happy workforce is a productive one and the easiest way of raising the spirits in the office is to put on the radio or a CD,” says McGregor, in the news report. “But the choice of music is vital and there is a risk that if it’s the wrong choice, it could be a recipe for office disaster and upset most of the office.”

McGregor’s playlist would include We Can Work It Out by The Beatles, Car Wash by Rose Royce, and Friday I’m in Love by The Cure. Bad ideas for office tunes, according to McGregor, include 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton, Fight the Power by Public Enemy, and Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by The Smiths, the newspaper reports.

“Most offices operate in near silence, with the only noise being the sound of keyboards tapping and phones ringing, but this in itself puts people on edge and can make them fearful of making any noise,” says McGregor, according to the Scotsman. “However, the right level of background music leads to an immediate change in atmosphere and encourages creativity and relaxation amongst everyone. And with the increasing popularity of MP3 players and personal music systems, there’s no reason why people in the office can’t pop their headphones in and listen to their own favorite music – as long as their singing doesn’t disturb everyone else of course!”