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WFH audio to boost productivity

Most people, possibly including you, have been working from home for quite a long time now. Since the start of the pandemic last year, several businesses have operated in a work-from-home or hybrid work arrangement. And for some people, working from home has been tiresome and lonesome. Some find it hard to concentrate for a long time while others miss the office ambience. 

We can alleviate these problems in several ways. For those looking to improve productivity, there is music that has been supported by studies to improve focus and concentration. The popular one is the “Mozart effect,” which states that listening to classical music can improve focus and spatial intelligence (Rauscher, Shaw & Ky). Other studies explore how noises can be a productive background sound while others the auditory illusion brought by binaural beats to help with mental problems.  

The emergence of these different types of audio roots back from other individual preferences that are influenced by one’s personality and experience. Whatever it is that a person prefers to listen to, there are many available resources online that can help with the simulation or production of a productive environment. Let us look at some of them. 

Music 

Chances are you have heard about the claim that listening to classical music makes you a genius. Well, it was an actual study by Rauscher, Shaw & Ky in 1993. However, it did not say that classical music can turn you into a genius in an instant but rather only revealed improvements in the spatial reasoning ability of people who listened to Mozart’s K. 48 for 10 minutes. This study has resulted in many other studies related to how sound can influence productivity and learning.  

There is much classical music from several musical geniuses of their time. If your mind tunes in to classical music for productivity, go ahead and explore the minds of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and many more.  

These kinds of music are the ones played in coffee shops and lounges. They create a calm and leisurely atmosphere that people ease into doing their businesses. If this is the kind of music that keeps you going (like me) as you often used to stay in coffee shops and other similar establishments, there are many YouTube and Spotify playlists for this. The most popular is Café Music BGM Channel which also streams live on their YouTube channel 24/7.  

This is a genre that makes use of imperfections in creating music to generate a different music experience. A combination of hip-hop, chiptunes, jazz, and many other genres, lo-fi incorporates noise into this music genre, hence low fidelity (lo-fi). Since those noises serve as  natural background noise for listeners, lo-fi is also a good music choice for productivity. 

Ambient sound 

For some people, music can be distracting, and instead, they prefer the white and pink noise in the background. If your room is too quiet or does not have the noise you are looking for, you should try these sounds that could simulate the working environment you are looking for.  

Sounds of birds chirping, the breeze blowing, the streams rushing, and the rain pouring can simulate a natural environment that people can find productive. Thankfully, people have recorded these ambient sounds and placed a library of these sounds online for you to use – some for free. 

Busy environment – Office and coffee shops 

Like the sound of nature, ambient sounds from busy environment like the office or the coffee shop have playlists too. These are for people who love the constant chatter of people, the sound of the coffee machine, printer, keyboard, and other things in the background. 

Websites/App 

If the sounds in the playlists mentioned above felt like there is something missing or you just wanted to get rid of some of the sounds you do not like, there are websites and applications that give you control of the background audio you wanted to achieve. These sites have selection and volume features that allow you to select which sounds you want to hear. Here are three examples: 

  • Sound of Colleagues – simulating the office environment. It contains sounds of devices and equipment in an office and other elements such as officemates chatter and the office dog. 

  • A Soft Murmur – nature sounds with a freemium feature. This has a friendly user interface that helps users mix the environment they want to be “in.” 

  • Mynoise – offers a wide range of choices depending on the mood and needs of the user. It is a free platform that only asks for donations. The library of sound is impressive, and it has been recognised by several media organisations as displayed on the site.  

Ambient music 

This type of music uses binaural beats. Binaural uses slightly different frequencies of tones for each ear but consolidates into one when it reaches the brain.  People with anxiety and stress are using this kind of sound as a self-help treatmentPotential benefits of binaural beats include improved concentration and focus and better long-term memory. However, it is important to note that the studies conducted regarding this are not conclusive, but it would not hurt to try them yourself.  

Your favourite music 

In the end, it all comes down to what gets you motivated the most. If none of the sounds mentioned above still does not work for you, your favourite music may help improve your mood, hence, can get you fuelled to do your task. However, there is a warning that listening to lyrics you recognise can be too distracting. So, listening before you get to work is recommended just to get that motivating feeling. But again, what works for you, right? 

 

We have been working in a different environment for quite some time now. And sometimes, we find it hard to concentrate because our environment is different from what gets us going, 

Thankfully, there are available sounds and music online to help us get into the environment we want. Several options are available: classical music, bossa nova and jazz, ambient sound, and music and binaural beats. With these many options, in the end, it all boils down to the preference of the listener.  

 

References 

Rauscher, F., Shaw, G. & Ky, C. Music and spatial task performance. Nature 365, 611 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1038/365611a0