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We’ve all heard the routine advice on improving productivity at work: don’t multi-task, minimize interruptions, say no to meetings, set self-imposed deadlines, etc.

But what about the modification of environmental sound? Can increasing work productivity really be as straightforward as playing certain types of music or sounds?

It turns out that both nature sounds and music have been found to have favorable effects in the workplace.

Let’s start with nature sounds.

Nature Sounds

The Acoustical Society of America presented findings showing that workers can get more done and feel more optimistic at work when nature sounds are playing in the background.

The study consisted of three sessions in the same room, where researchers had participants complete tests while listening to a variety of soundscapes. Each session had a different type of sound playing in the background, as follows:

  • First session: office sounds muffled by white noise
  • Second session: office sounds muffled by nature sounds
  • Third session: office sounds with no masking noise

The final results? The employees performed better on the tests when listening to nature sounds and also felt more optimistic about the environment and the task.

The nature sounds were also greatly preferred over the white noise even though white noise supplied a similar masking effect.

Here’s a playlist of calming nature sounds for you to experiment with yourself.


If you’re not into nature sounds, research from the University of Windsor demonstrates that listening to music can have comparable positive impacts on work productivity.

They found that listening to music in the workplace boosts mood and lessens anxiety, which brings about an emotional state conducive to elevated creative problem solving.

Participants that listened to music reported better moods, created higher quality work, and spent less time on each task.

Granted, the study was confined to information technology professionals, but there’s good reason to believe the effect is more widespread.

What kind of music was revealed to have the greatest effect? It turns out that the category is less important than the positive emotional reaction it evokes in the listener.

Which means the difference between classical music and hard rock is unimportant as long as the music enhances your mood.

Did you know that many hearing aid models allow you to stream music directly to the hearing aids from your smartphone or music player?

If you have hearing loss, or are thinking about an upgrade, ask us about the latest technology you could use to start maximizing productivity at work.