This week, I asked readers if they listened to music at work – and how often.
The responses were relatively balanced, but with a definite edge for those who listened, at least sometimes. More than a third listened constantly – 28% via a personal music device, the remaining 5% via music piped in to their workplace (and while not all appreciated that decision, one reader noted, “â€¦it’s mostly stuff I like. The sad part is that you know you’re getting older when the music that rocked you has now become the new elevator music.” ). On the other hand, 15% said they never listened to music at work, while another 8% didn’t – but not because they didn’t want to.
Among the remaining responses, roughly one-in-five ( 19% ) said they listened only “sporadically, 23% did so “occasionally”, and the rest either had it forced on them via a neighbor selection, or opted for “other.”
What was interesting was the split(s) between those who “needed” music to be more productive ( “Without my radio on, however, my office is just too quiet,” noted one, while another said, “it will depend on what project I am working but I find that it often does help me concentrate.” ) and those who found it to be a distraction – and the relatively large number who needed it to shut out the distractions of workplace noise. As one reader noted, “â€¦they keep cramming workers into smaller and smaller spaces, so I need the music to serve as a barrier to the other noise that is closing in around me.”
“My office is next to the door going out to the shop – it slams shut no less than 100 times a dayâ€¦.if I didn’t have music to help drown out the sound, I’d go nuts,” explained another.
There were positive recollections as well. “Music gets me through the mundane aspects of my job that I have to get done but would rather put off forever” , noted one respondent. “The other day I heard “Down on the Corner” by Credence Clearwater Revival and for a second I remembered roller skating to it at the local rink in 7th or 8th grade – it was like a brief mental vacation (especially since I couldn’t take a real vacation this year because of too much work.)
“Usually, it’s when my co-workers are being really noisy, or worse yet, sighing and moaning about how much they hate their job,” noted another. On the other hand, one reader noted that “If my ears are covered, I might miss important information uttered by my neighbors.”
Indeed, the “influence” of coworkers came up a lot in terms of the decision to listen – or pretend to listen – to music. One reader noted, “I often put on my headphones with no music playing to cut out the noise and to stop people from bothering me.” Still another said that they “â€¦use it as a “stay back 50 ft”. People know when the iPod is in my ears, the emotional state of the office is the last thing I want to talk about. There’s work to be done and I need to focus! Added bonus? Nothing like a song to lighten my mood!
And sometimes the decision was borne of a desire to respect one’s coworkers, as the reader who said that they “â€¦used to take singing lessons and I have caught myself singing along to the music. Not just humming, I go full range, and it got too embarrassing. With no music playing, I tend to keep it in my head.”
But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who listens occasionally, but “â€¦would listen more if I didn’t have so many meetings.”
Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!
D) I play soft music CD's several hours per week, just before major meetings, decision points and while reviewing RFP's and other technical reports. Seems like the musical notes improves the thought process, but maybe is just "sees" that way.
(d) -- I'd listen more if I didn't have so many meetings. Generally, I listen in the early morning or when I'm working at home on the weekends. I agree that the "right" kind of music helps me -- but the wrong kind of music annoys me. Since "my" type of music does not equal my neighbor's type of music, I'm not an advocate for music-for-all being piped in -- unless it's "my" kind of music :o)
(g) just a policy
Survey response = (b) constantly - via a personal music device
(f) Never. (No restrictions against it)
Yes, I listen to an mp3 player, but not constantly. Usually, it's when my co-workers are being really noisy, or worse yet, sighing and moaning about how much they hate their job.
F) never listen to music at work
Constantly, it's piped in but it's mostly stuff I like. The sad part is that you know you're getting older when the music that rocked you has now become the new elevator music.
F. Never. (but it is a major part of my life outside of work-classical)
G. If my ears are covered, I might miss important information uttered by my neighbors.
D) Occasionally- I listen to a site on the internet that streams music from a favorite channel in Phoenix (I live in PA now), but I generally keep the volume low enough so I'm the only one enjoying my taste in music.
I would have to say (f) never, but not without comment.
Once a licensing salesperson called me at a bad time on a busy day and I didn't want to listen to the scripted sales pitch. She was selling a general license to use music in the workplace. I'm afraid I was not very cordial. To be truthful, I had never heard any music at work. I told her that there was no music at *****.
She responded, "Surely there is general office music."
I responded, "There is no music at *****."
She responded, "Employees must listen to music on the radio or on the Internet?"
"There is no music at *****, and we have no radios and we have no time to listen over the Internet."
"Piped-in music in the elevators?"
"No elevators. There is no music at *****."
Never losing a beat, she said, "You have music at the company parties."
My response, "We have no company parties and I can't imagine music at them if we did."
Thinking that she finally had me she said, "You have music for the caller to listen to when you put calls on hold!"
I responded, "No, we don't. The caller on hold listens in real time to the tower at the local airport."
She was disbelieving. "That could be dangerous!"
I replied, "I'm sure they would shut off access to the transmission if there was an actual emergency."
She finally gave up.
There is no music at *****.
(d) Occasionally - Although I would likely listen a lot more if I did not have such a hard time finding online radio stations or websites that were not blocked by our corporate firewall. How can a radio stations websites be considered such a 'danger' to our work environment??? I am getting tired of the 'This could be due to high risk or inappropriate content' message that we are all growing accustomed to. On one hand, I feel like I am wasting company time in looking for something to listen to, on the other hand , they keep cramming workers into smaller and smaller spaces, so I need the music to serve as a barrier to the other noise that is closing in around me.
(e) Partially, because one of my co-workers listens to music, which by the way is not to my liking...
(e) Sporadically; Although I sometimes listen to my Ipod when working on something which requires concentration; I often put on my headphones with no music playing to cut out the noise and to stop people from bothering me. My bad!
(f) Never. If there is noise in the background trying to insinuate itself into my mind, I get headaches when I try to concentrate. (Gee whiz, I sound just like my Dad.)
Question of the day: Answers D - it will depend on what project I am working but I find that it often does help me concentrate.
(e) Sporadically - When I started out in this business the head actuary insisted that we give our clients 100% of our attention, therefore no music with or with/out headsets. I got use to it and now I find that it is distracting. BUT there are days when I just need to hear Jimi, Zeppelin, the Doors, the Beatles or maybe even the Ramones so I get a CD out and let everyone around me enjoy the music -then I go back into my hole and gripe about how no one is getting any work done...
I listen to music pretty much all the time via CD player or radio. What better way to give myself a little bit of calm as the day spins wildly out of control? It also helps me block out the hub-bub going on outside of my door because I focus on the tunes.
Actually, the ability to have music on is one of the questions I ask when I'm interviewing for new jobs.
Just like at the grocery store - good music helps make the experience more pleasant and encourages me to stay longer.
(b) Constantly * via a personal music device
I think I'd go crazy if I didn't have music as a background to work. The silence of typing can be deafening.
(b) Constantly via a radio
(b) Constantly - I turn on my radio (which also plays CDs) when I turn on my computer. It's not music all day, though. I start and end with NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and I listen to an "alternative rock" station and/or play CDs in the middle. I don't always pay attention to all of the news --I am at work theoretically working after all -- but I do catch an interesting story now and again. Without my radio on, however, my office is just too quiet.
My response is a combination of C and D. That is, I occasionally listen to my own radio or play cd's through my computer, with the volume low. Several days out of the week, before work starts, I can hear my coworker's music playing from her cubicle. We are allowed to play music in our areas but are instructed that if anyone comes into our area to discuss business, that as a professional courtesy we are to either lower the volume of the music or turn it off.
e - It's difficult to get reception here and I don't have a music collection.
YES - I must have music at work to keep me going. I listen to "streamed" music on my computer. Whatever mood I am in, the music I choose keeps me motivated and makes the work flow more pleasant. I do believe that more is accomplished with music in the background to keep the tempo of the workplace from lagging.
b) I listen to music in my office, I find it relaxing and I can catch up on the news throughout the day.
At age 45, my husband and son gave me an iPod for my birthday. It's great if the phones are off and I am doing mindless input. I can't ignore other employees or the phones, though, so the occasion doesn't arise often where I feel comfortable tuning in (out?).
E) Sporadically. I have my own personal music device and a few cds here at work, but usually when I attempt to listen to music it gets too distracting and I just turn it off. Still, it does come in handy on a bad day to be able to listen to something that makes me feel better.
b) My office is next to the door going out to the shop - it slams shut no less than 100 times a dayâ€¦.if I didn't have music to help drown out the sound, I'd go nuts.
(d) Occasionally. I use it as a "stay back 50 ft". People know when the iPod is in my ears, the emotional state of the office is the last thing I want to talk about. There's work to be done and I need to focus! Added bonus? Nothing like a song to lighten my mood!
I stream it off of the internet. When the phone rings I turn it down or off. When a client or colleague is in my office it is turned down or off. But when I'm cranking out work, I'm cranking it up...to a reasonable volume only I can hear, of course...
f) Never -- it's distracting to me. And this comes from a person who graduated college with a Music Business degree!
My answer to the survey is e - sporadically. When I remember that I have a radio in my office.
E) it's piped in, but I don't hear it except before and after regular office hours when the area is quieter.
I listen to music at work, though always using headphones. I do not do so often, but I do follow a regular pattern. Specifically, I listen to music on the mornings following new episodes of '24' and 'Lost', because I am never home to watch them and have to TiVo them to watch later and I need to drown out all of the plot discussion among my co-workers on those mornings.
The answer is E - when I need a "pick me up"
b) I listen to music constantly on a personal device.
I listen to music ALL day at work...it's the first thing I turn on when I walk in my office, even before I turn the computer on! I can't function without music playing in the background. It's on soft enough so that it doesn't interfere with telephone calls, but it's noticeable. I have my own radio/cd player and it's what keeps me sane!
(f) never - can't concentrate. Funny, a long time ago I read "Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and one of the values that were described was that of concentration to doing a job right - the motorcycle had gone to one garage with loud music and one without. Big difference. The description in the book was one that I read to my staff (when I owned my own TPA) when there was some question whether anyone could have a radio or not. After reading the Zen description, I got mostly blank stares from the staff (like I had lost my mind).... I guess you had to be there.
My response is g.
I never listen to music at work, but it's not because I don't want to.
It's because there are people sitting within a foot and a half of me on three sides and I'd rather not force them to listen to The Who if that is not their cup of tea. I'd use headphones, but I'm pretty sure that might slow down my productivity, considering the amount of phone calls and "surprise visits" I get in one day. Basically, I'd concentrate more and get more done if I could listen to music, just not in this environment, with this company.
(b) Constantly - I stream a local rock radio station or rock.com through my computer
Music gets me through the mundane aspects of my job that I have to get done but would rather put off forever. The other day I heard "Down on the Corner" by Credence Clearwater Revival and for a second I remembered roller skating to it at the local rink in 7th or 8th grade - it was like a brief mental vacation (especially since I couldn't take a real vacation this year because of too much work.) I recommend listening to music you love - but softly so as not to distract others who don't share your taste in music (such as my boss's classical CD with nature sounds such as birds and wolves in the background - Ugh!)
Sporadically...but, when I'm alone...I listen to it loud!
I don't regularly listen to music at work, but found the need to use my IPod during the day this past summer to save my sanity. There was a jackhammer in use almost daily in a nearby parking garage which reached unbearable decibel levels.
Hey Nevin. G, I like music but there is no way I can focus on answering 150 e-mails a day and taking 20 telephone calls with headphones on.
D) Occasionally - it all depends on my mood for the day. I stream my favorite radio station or if I'm not in the mood for that I stream my XM Radio and I occasionally listen to the music I have on my ITunes Library.
As an Internal Auditor, I travel between my office and our main office in another city. When I am in my office, I listen to music all day [mostly both kinds--country and western :)]. I either have my radio on or I listen to the tunes I have on my hard drive. When I'm at our main office, I usually don't listen but sometimes you just gotta have Elvis!
d) Occasionally but I can tell that my attitude is much better when I do, so my goal is to do it more.
I am a (d) Occasionally. What usually happens is that I hear a song I like on the radio, and the station NEVER says who played it. So I have to track down said song by inputting a portion of the lyrics into Google. Then I'll end up listening to said song a bunch at the office.
In the days when we had lots of folks still IN the office, I had a cube neighbor who played gospel music not loudly but not quiet enough. It was loud enough to be annoying, so I went over to his cube and asked if he would mind turning it down or getting headphones. He apologized, and I went back to work. Then 10 minutes later, I heard him telling his neighbors (his cube was on the aisle next to mine) how "some jerk complained about his music." I finally went BACK over and said "Umm... I don't consider myself a jerk, and I didn't complain, I merely asked that you turn it down or put on headphones." Then went back to my cube. Well apparently this guy wasn't the brightest bulb in the pack (he must not have figured out that I could here what he was saying) because he then goes back to his neighbors and says "that jerk just came over and told me again...blah blah blah..." So I finally spoke up over the cube "the jerk can hear you loud and clear." And he finally shut up and went back to work. About a week later, he was canned (he was a contract employee, and apparently, he wasn't focusing on his work).
And in my own defense, when I do listen to music at work, I *always* wear headphones. They're the old Radio Shack "Princess Leia" model, but heck, they keep me from bothering my neighbors :-).
E) I listen to music at work sporadically. Generally a CD via my hard drive/headphones, sometimes via my iPod. If I have to do writing or editing, I can't listen to anything. But if it's rote, administrative, numbers stuff I can. Lately I've been stuck on Johnny Cash "Live at Folsom Prison"
Never. I used to take singing lessons and I have caught myself singing along to the music. Not just humming, I go full range, and it got too embarrassing. With no music playing, I tend to keep it in my head.
I listen to music in the office (d) occasionally.
I've always had music in my cubicle or office. It acts as "white noise" to filter out the office cacophony and allows me to concentrate. Prior to our company blocking radio station streaming, I would have a classic rock (60s & 70s) format. Unfortunately, the New York metro area no longer has a commercial station with this format so I've switched my radio to a contemporary Christian station.
I worked for a major insurer in the 1970s who hired a consultant on the workplace environment. One of their recommendations involved periodic change and communication to enhance productivity. For six months you'd have a local easy listening station broadcast constantly. Then, "based on employee feedback", they'd do a half hour on, half hour off. Six months later, "based on employee requests", they'd go to canned music, and so on and so on. Believe it or not, you could track the productivity spikes immediately after the changes and, even though productivity would slack off a bit toward the end of the period, it consistently stayed higher than pre-program.
My favorite story involves the NY sales office of a major insurer. With their telephone system, the "hold" music was any local radio station that they selected. A national conference call was scheduled for early morning. All persons who called in, including the company president, were placed on hold while they were in queue to be added to the conference call. After enduring 10 minutes hold "music", a racist, sexist tirade from the Howard Stern radio program, the president decreed only pre-canned Mantovani elevator music for all offices.
D. I live stream from the internet to my computer headphones. However this hasn't really been approved by my manager. I think they have too many experiences with their teenagers ignoring them while listening to their Ipods that they forget that mature adults can listen to music low enough to take them off when the phone rings!
I am just dreading the day when they ask me to stop. I am 29. I was raised with background noise. I got honors in high school and college with the radio or TV on in the background. I have trouble keeping my eyes open with just the soothing sound of the copier or soft buzz of the florescent lighting...
I listen to music at work (d) occasionally. I have a personal stereo in my office, and usually the only reason I don't listen is because I forget to turn it on. In fact, I turned it on today when I read about the Spherion survey in the NewsDash.
H: Very much frowned upon, so I never do. In fact, there was one guy who always had his iPod on - and he's gone! But there are times when I think it would be helpful, so it would be nice to have the option to listen occasionally.
G - Reception in our building is terrible so I'd rather listen to nothing
I listen to music (b) constantly -via a personal music device. With a stress on "personal" device, I do turn it off in preparation of meetings or if I know people are going to drop by and I am certain that it's quiet enough that you can't hear it when passing by my office. If my goal is to keep chatty co-workers out of my office so that I can focus on detailed projects, I'm guilty of bringing in my iPod. Nothing says "leave me alone" like the mighty white ear budsâ€¦ but still a bit more accessible than a closed door.
(d) Occasionally - sometimes it is the only way I can drown out the conversations of co-workers two aisles away
I don't listen to music because I find it too distracting. I like the peace and quiet of my office.
(g) Never, because I don't want to.
Listening to music is distracting to me. You see, I am a karaoke enthusiast and I love to sing. As a matter of fact, right now I am thinking about singing karaoke instead of thinking about work........goodbye for now!
I keep a small clock/radio on my credenza and listen to the classical radio station as background music. I do find it to be somewhat calming. My dog also has a calming effect, but unfortunately, I can't take him to work with me.
My answer is G. (Never, but not because I don't want to.)
I'm still waiting for Plantronics to develop a headset that can switch between my phone system at work and my iPod. I'd buy one in a heartbeat! I noticed in my studio at home that I am more focused, more creative and less stressed when I have music playing. Wish I could do that at work...
Only downside -- I might sing.
I would have to say B-constantly via a personal device. My $5 buy at Wal-Mart gets better reception than anything else. Music really does help you become more productive because it keeps me awake. Now if I could only find a station that doesn't play the same 5 songs over and over all day long!
I would have to say (e) sporadically. I have an archaic, multi-purpose digital clock radio on my desk and no headphones. I listen sporadically because either (a) the air vent and white noise are roaring too loud to hear anything else, (b) I can't pick up anything other than static anywhere on the dial, or (c) the planets, weather, and radio tower of my preferred station have aligned for radio karma.
On a side note, your quote of the day made me laugh. My husband turned 35 this year and I have noticed a definite rise in the complaints against the "noise" I play in my car when he rides with me. (But I am not telling how old I am...... 🙂
Is this (f) or (h)? Music is banned as iPOD headsets "look unprofessional" but you can have everything else hanging from your ears. The boss looks like he stepped out of Terminator 2 and half the staff must use other phone headsets to get their job done.
(f) -- never. I find it extremely distracting given the detail oriented work I do each day (but then I couldn't study to music in college either, so I guess I'm weird that way). What's even more distracting is having to listen to co-workers' radios tuned to various stations!
(d) occasionally and, (e) sporadically - If I try to listen during the day when everyone is here then my answer is (e) because of all the interruptions, but generally I find the best time to listen is after everyone has left for the day then it is (d), mainly because I am enjoying the peace and quite so much.
In response to your survey about music - we have music piped in which is considered easy listening. Only a handful of people seem to be happy about it. Some don't want any music, others want something different such as country, something more lively or anything "younger".
We've allowed folks to bring in radios but have not required headphones as long as they don't play them loudly. Now that is becoming an issue since other workers in the same area say they can hear what their nearest neighbor listens to (even though a normal person couldn't hear at that decibel level) and don't like it. We'll probably have to require headphones in the near future to stop that problem. The music was off for 3 days and we had a number of people call wondering why it was off (needed repair) and how soon it would be back. No matter what we do, we don't have a consensus. It's a lose-lose for us.
We listen to music. I never did before as I thought it would make me less productive. Now I am used to it and it just ends up being background noise.
The problem is my 2 partners like country and I DO NOT. The channel seems to constantly be turned to country and I must fight back. We also have a rule that everyone is allowed 1 LOUD song per day. Problem is we are growing and adding employees. I am concerned the office may turn into a full blown concert.
I listen to music at work = constantly via a personal music device.
Definitely makes me more productive.
For me, it's b) - constantly.... I've got an old radio propped up on my hard drive, I'm in an office, so I don't annoy anyone.... I definitely love my job, not because of being able to listen to music, but it definitely helps.... I do have to remember to not sing along with this music TOO loudly, though....
I don't listen to music at work. I can only faintly hear the musak & I am glad of that. I think music is distracting & I can't understand how anyone with Led Zeppelin or the Black Eyed Peas or whatever piping into their eardrums could possibly concentrate on a spreadsheet or a report or a letter or an email or anything. I think the people who say they can concentrate while listening to music are kidding themselves or their bosses & would be a lot more productive if it was quiet. If you are doing some kind of physical labor, I can imagine it might be helpful, but not for office workers. How many times have we been told that our children should not be listening to music or have the television on while doing homework? But for grownups doing detailed work at the office it's suddenly not a factor? Give me a break. Grow up & do your work & stop trying to entertain yourself. Work is not supposed to be a big party. That's why we call it work.
My answer is (b) - constantly. I keep my radio (yes, the old-fashioned kind) tuned to the local classical music station. If they're playing some particularly loud opera, then I might turn it off and play one of my Mozart cd's. (After all, Mozart makes you smarter...)