By Kjartan Sigurdsson, writing from Horsens Denmark.
I just had an interesting conversation about silence in the workplace I recently joined. I have worked in various companies where the radio is left on all day or there is background music playing. The feeling in these places was that the music just filled the air and didn’t interrupt anyone. I have also worked in companies where there is total silence and you can literally hear a needle drop.
Which is better? Which leads to better productivity? Which leads to a more positive work atmosphere? These are interesting questions worth asking.
There are different views, and at times very strong views, about music in the workplace. Some people like having the radio pounding in their ears all day long and some people prefer soft unobtrusive background music that could not possibly offend anyone. At the same time there are people who prefer total silence with just the soft hurly-burly of people having conversations and moving around the workplace. Finally, there are the “ear-budders”; people who don’t care what sounds there are in the workplace as long as they can listen to what they want from a headphone. So, there are (at least!) four positions here.
As I started to think about this and talk to people I found out that people actually complain about both soft unobtrusive music and the radio pounding all day long and found it annoying to hear the same news, songs and all that again and again. Some people simply don’t like the music offered on specific radio stations. Then, there is this group who can sway away from the silence and relaxing working environment and decide to, in a polite way, send the message that they are not available and put on their headphones to enjoy the music of their choice.
Now we come to the core of the reason why I started to think about this as an issue. Organizations, in most cases, want to meet people’s needs and preferences in order to keep them happy and the workplace an interesting one to work in. However, at least how I observe it, in many cases things like sound in all of its different forms or silence are not given enough thought.
Now is your chance to speak out. What do you think about music in the workplace? Click this link to have your say by answering a few easy questions: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1801550/Music-in-the-work-place