Eleven. Exactly. One Louder.


Yes, it’s the quote from “This is Spinal Tap” referring to the more than maximum level of amplification (which is usually ten).  Epic movie about the loudest band. You really should see it. But what should the amp level be in the office? Eleven or zero? Is music exhorting productivity or simply a disturbance? The simple rule of thumb is that if there is at least one person who desires silence then silence it will be. Headphones for all the others. But to find out what the truth is, let’s take a quick look what the Internet has got to say.

There are of course lot’s of studies you can read, but because Toggl is all about the productivity we’ll just have a quick overview. For those, who are too productive and do not want to waste time on reading even a short blog post, there are some music suggestions at the end of this article.

As research goes, there actually is a connection between listening music and increasing productivity. First of the reason is purely biological – listening music encourages release of dopamine which gives sort of “rewarded” feeling. It might be extra helpful when the tasks in hand are repetitive or, if one can say so, boring. Certain test cases showed that people who listened music completed the tasks faster. Also better ideas were produced by listeners.

As always, exceptions apply. Music is not advised when there is heavy mental work to be done such as learning something new or reading difficult material. In these cases your brain needs more of its resources and music is not only covering disturbing noises from the surroundings but becomes one itself.

Music without lyrics is considered more useful for productivity, although when the language is not listeners native, then it will become part of the general sound and is not considered disturbance. Besides, knowing and understanding the lyrics might lead to a unwanted sing-along and that is only cool in the musical movies, in most of the real-life cases your co-workers will film it and you’ll end up in Youtube.

Headphones or speakers? First ones are usually more favoured but there are downsides, mainly the health related issues. By wearing them on the way to the  office, in the office, during the run or at home, is eventually killing ones ears. And we do not want that. Also in the open-office environment  it gets quickly annoying  to gain somebody´s attention by throwing paper-balls or shooting them with a NERF guns before the conversation can be started. Using the speakers need the full consensus on the choice of music cause studies show that listening music only works when it is liked by the people, otherwise it will disturb as much as endlessly coughing colleague or a humming refrigerator.

Yes, that’s all interesting and all but let’s get to the important part – what performers should we listen? Actually the most common suggestion Internet has is “classical music”. Youtube with some common search-words  backs it up – classical sounds, piano music, loungy stuff – all following the same pattern: no lyrics, calm and soothing, bit monotone. That’s the safe way to go and basically everything works.

But let’s be a bit more creative. There are many situation in the office-life that demand different kind of soundtrack. So here’s a collaborative Spotify list by Toggl and Teamweek that is allowed to play in our offices without anyone throwing things at the speakers. This list is covering everything on the scale from “I need to focus…” to the “Say that again? Deadline is when?!!” type of situations, visiting also “”Eff it, its time to dig in” and “It’s Friday 6 PM, let’s go!” These tunes are keeping the spirit up and ideas fresh in our office.

Toggl / Teamweek Spotify playlist

What are your suggestions? Hit us with your playlists and suggestions in the comments section. We are always welcoming new and interesting stuff.

By On November 24, 2014