iWork: Should I Listen to Music While At Work?

Music at WorkMusic is a stress reliever to many people. It can also be a great way to tune out the distractions around you and keep your focus on the task at hand. Although this might be beneficial when you’re cleaning your house or driving on a road trip, should you listen to music in the workplace?

The answer really depends on the office you work in. How many co-workers are within close proximity of your office or cubicle? Will your music distract them from getting their work done? Can you listen to music with headphones or does your workplace not allow this?

Music’s affect on work productivity has actually been studied quite a bit. According to The Workplace Doctors, the University of Illinois found that listening to music in “all types of work” increased output 6.3 percent. However, in another study, 56 employees working on basic computer tasks were found to be more productive when there was no music playing over the same period tested with music.

“Music not only marches soldiers to war, soothes the depressed and manic, occupies us as we wait in elevators and doctors’ waiting rooms, and entertains us while going to and from work, but also is used to cover the noise of department store shoppers, office machines and production lines, and to generate higher performance,” writes Workplace Doctor William Gorden.

So, should you listen to music while at work? Largely, the consensus is “it depends.” You likely know how you work best, and if music is a distraction for you, then it’s probably better to continue doing your tasks without it. However, if music improves your mood and boosts your productivity, by all means – listen!

Just remember to be considerate of others while listening at work. If you can, invest in a pair of headphones to avoid distracting others who may not work well with background music. Avoid singing or dancing while listening, too, as this can be another distraction to your fellow co-workers.

You might also want to consider listening to different types of music. In fact, the most quoted research about music and concentration is called the Mozart Effect — which indicates “listening to Mozart’s music may induce a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks known as spatial-temporal reasoning.”

What do you think? Does listening to music improve your productivity? Do you have a favorite genre or artist that keeps you motived at work?

Guest Expert:

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

We are grateful to all of the career experts for the top advice and experience they share with our readers. Career Rocketeer couldn’t “take off” without them and their contributions.   Want to write for our blog? Want to further build your personal brand and your business? Learn more ► about applying to our career expert program!

Need a boost for your job search and career?

Subscribe today ► and get our latest blog posts and other top tips, tools and resources emailed right to your inbox!

Get Your Copy of LinkedUp!

LinkedUp shows you how to leverage LinkedIn to build an online presence, establish industry credibility and find your next job. Learn more ►

>Career Studios Backstage Mega Pass

Want access to over 25+ hours of job search and career seminars?! Get your Backstage MEGA PASS! Learn more ►


  1. ruth says:

    The only reason I got an mp3 player was to drown out my co-worker who listens to music all day and taps his hands, feet, drums with his pencil and fingers and whistles while at his desk. He has been spoken to several times but will not stop making all this distracting noise. People avoid him and management stuck him in a corner far away from everyone (but me since we do the same job and work together). He is isolating himself. People talk about how distracting he is behind his back. All because he listens to music on headphones while working. And these are noise reducing headphones. So I have to actually IM him or get up and go to him because he cannot hear me calling his name for the music.

    I think there are many lessons to be learned in this story for the right person.

Speak Your Mind