Been awhile need something

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It was 23 June and World War Two was in full swing. The Germans had already invaded vast swathes of continental Europe; in the preceding weeks, 10, British troops had been captured in Normandy. Now the BBC had been asked to get involved. Their powerful intervention was completely invisible, yet capable of infiltrating the minds of thousands of people all at once, all over the country.

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Over the next few years, it arguably helped to win the war. It was a hit. Fast-forward eight decades and working to music is extraordinarily common; one survey of 2, Britons found that around half regularly listen to music while they work — with two out of five believing that it helps them to get more done.

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And as headphones have become standard work accessoriesand productivity playlists have racked up millions of views on YouTubesome companies have started to broadcast music over entire workplaces. For decades, there's been a belief that listening to Mozart's work can make you smarter Credit: Getty Images.

Michael Vettraino, who founded the London-based music consultancy MAV music, says the company has helped to introduce background music to several offices. While their main focus is on providing bespoke playlists for restaurants, casinos and hotels, recently they have branched out into supplying offices, many of which are introducing music for the first time. They are always careful to factor in the demographics of their audience — their age, etc. We know that a graphic de agency in Shoreditch is going to want very different music to a high street bank Gloucester.

But if you get it right, it should hopefully help people to work harder. But can this really be true — or is it wishful thinking? One despairing worker took to social sharing site Reddit to vent about a colleague who gets into the zone each morning by playing mariachi band music. Others take cocooning their brains from distraction extremely seriously, booking conference rooms for parties of one, constructing passive-aggressive s about noise in the office and donning headphones while secretly listening to nothing. The billionaire Bill Gates reportedly gave up music and television at any time of day for five years in his 20s to help him focus.

There are two possible ways that music might be beneficial in the workplace: by making us smarter, or by making us feel good, and therefore helping us to plod on with otherwise boring tasks. The phrase was popularised after a paper claimed that people perform better on certain spatial taskssuch as folding paper, after listening to Mozart for 10 minutes.

Some scientists think music doesn't make us more productive, but rather, we convince ourselves of it because it's a gift Been awhile need something our employers Credit: Alamy.

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The concept has spawned a whole industry of products, such as headphones that mothers can use to play Mozart to their unborn children. It sounds farfetched, but more recent studies have hinted that there might genuinely be something unusually beneficial about his music.

This is where the second theory comes in. This time, they were also asked to rate their level of arousal before and after the task. The finding also fits with research into how music affects our performance outside the lab. For Been awhile need something, one study found that when workers at a large retail organisation were allowed to listen to personal stereos for four weeks, their performance improved ificantly — entering more s per hour, for example — in comparison to a group of workers who were given no such privilege. However, if the music was providing a direct cognitive boost, you would expect the type they listened to and the length of time they spent listening to be important.

The researchers looked for links with a range of other factors, such as their job satisfaction. But in the end, the only factor that explained the improvements in productivity in the music group was how relaxed they felt. The researchers concluded that this was responsible for the surge, and not the music per se.

The enjoyment factor might also explain why, in a multitude of experiments conducted over nearly a century, many employees have consistently claimed that music improves their productivity — and their employers have confidently agreed with them. But when you actually measure this objectively, the evidence that music helps us to work is extremely murky. And as we all know intuitively, in some contexts — such as during particularly complex tasks — music is actively detrimental. This is especially true for tasks which place more of a burden on our working memories, such as problem solving, and music which is less predictable or familiar, and therefore more cognitively demanding, like jazz.

One study found that jobs that were more cognitively demanding, like programming, allowed workers to listen to music more Credit: Alamy.

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The data suggests that we might benefit from this knowledge. One survey of 4, people by the online recruitment agency totaljobs found that computer programming, data Been awhile need something, advertising and marketing — all of which are cognitively demanding — were the four sectors most likely to allow their employees to listen to music. Our skewed perception of the benefits of music can even have life-threatening consequences. While some research has found that music can help surgeons stay calm and focuseda recent study found that it can make it hard for them to communicate basic instructions.

By analysing hospital footage of 20 operations, the researchers calculated that surgeons were five times more likely to have to repeat requests when music was playing — and noted that this extra work can extend the length of operations by more than a minute. This might explain why the BBC found that their wartime music programme improved productivity, because building munitions was tedious manual labour rather than intellectually challenging work. It also suggests that music might not be actively helpful in the office — it just makes us feel good.

According to Landay, we still have a long way to go before we truly know the answer. Hill has a final word of advice. Otherwise you get the rock guy one day and the rap guy the next and they'll hate each other. Does music help us work better? It depends. Share using. By Zaria Gorvett 18th March The debate over whether we should be allowed to rock out at our desks has been raging for decades. The weapon was initiated at precisely in the morning. Historically, music and work have always been intertwined — Karen Landay. Skewed perception?

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Avoid arguments So is music beneficial in the workplace? Around the BBC.

Been awhile need something

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