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Pop Music Sees Productivity Soar in Offices

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Nearly half (43%) of UK office workers say listening to pop music powers their productivity more than any other genre, whether in a small (33%) or large (49%) business. ‘Rock’ is at number two (26%) despite its ‘heavier’ characteristics.

According to a leading music therapist, the secret may lie in their similar, higher BPMs (beats per minute) – ‘pop averages 100–130 and ‘rock’ 110–140 – which may be the optimum rate for motivation. 

The findings are from a revealing recent survey of 2,000 UK people by music licensing company PPL PRS into the effect of music on their work performance and well-being.  

Top 5 motivating music genres for office workers 

  • pop (43%) 
  • rock (26%) 
  • classical (24%)
  • soul (18%) 
  • reggae (14%)

‘Pop’ is a firm favourite among junior team members (44%), but C-suite leaders seek a more soothing sound in ‘classical’ (25%) or ‘soul’ (20%). 

Contrastingly, ‘funk’ leaves workers the least inspired (5%), followed by the grittier genre of ‘grime’ (6%). It doesn’t mean they dislike these music styles altogether, however. On the contrary, they may enjoy the genres away from the office, in their personal or social lives. 

Leaders ought to consider engaging their employees’ senses to enhance well-being. For example, sound – specifically music (31%) – came first when workers were asked to rank from 1-5 how important stimulants commonly found in offices are in creating a positive working environment, ahead of layout and lighting.

Workers’ top five sensory stimulants in the office

  • music (32%)
  • colours (23%)
  • fragrance (19%) 
  • layout /space (13%) 
  • lighting (11%)  

Almost two-thirds (63%) of those surveyed admit that different types of music ‘definitely’ affect their mood in different ways (for example: lifting their spirits or mellowing them). Plus, nearly half (48%) admit to mixing up their music choice ‘all the time depending on the activity. Such insights may account for their playing preferences while working. 

Marianne Rizkallah, music therapist for PPL PRS, also commented: ‘Music has a unique ability to enhance personal wellness and professional output. When employees hear a genre or song they like, their brain releases dopamine,  a chemical that makes us feel good – and a better mood enhances work performance.’ 

 ‘It’s worth considering the context. As the survey shows, workers don’t necessarily listen to the same music to concentrate. Some may prefer an instrumental song for calculations or writing, then a faster-paced tune for admin, for example. Also, they might listen to specific genres at work and others in their leisure time.’

‘Tempo is key. The winning choices – pop and rock – generally boast a higher BPM (beats per minute), increasing your heart rate and pumping more oxygen around the body, leaving you firing on all cylinders. ‘Pop’ may reign supreme (regardless of business size or age) due to its diversity – it has evolved greatly over the decades and draws on influences from other genres.’ 

Ultimately, there are key differences (between junior and senior staff, for example) that mean it’s not a one-size-fits-all. For example, the future may see localised songs playing in ‘pods’. But, for now, compiling a playlist with your team’s favourite artists and songs to boost morale and kickstart conversations in the office.’

 Andrea Gray, managing director at PPL PRS, which commissioned the study, commented: ‘The pandemic saw many workers tackle their to-do list from home. Now that offices have largely reopened, leaders should prioritise creating an environment that supports employees’ needs. I’m proud that our survey highlights the importance of music, down to the preferred genres.’

Music in the workplace supercharges productivity and creates a buzz (that so many have missed while working remotely) to benefit the bottom line ultimately. Ultimately, it’s a testament to the excellence of the music industry. The quality output from today’s creators and performers delivers more than just a pleasurable listening experience – it’s a driving force behind employee performance and the economy.’

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