What would your reaction be if you heard Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” blasting from your CEO’s computer? Don’t worry, this hasn’t actually happened at DSM…yet. Would you bop along to the song or try to ignore the choice of music and accept the distraction caused by your colleague?

Recently, music in the workplace has been a rising trend to boost workflow. Everyone has their own song that gets them going. When statistics show that a staggering 90% of workers perform better when listening to music, it’s no surprise that most offices now allow employees to use headphones or play music from their speakers as a way to keep folks happy and keep them working. Clearly, listening to music in the workplace can increase productivity, boost morale and help employees focus on the task at hand. However, if not used properly, music can prove distracting and, with headphones, even disengaging. This begs the question, what is the right way to listen to music at work?

Need-to-Know Etiquette for Music at Work

Picture this: it’s a Thursday afternoon and you’re flying through your work because you’re bumping that hot new Drake album through your speakers. Your coworker next to you just answered their phone and you didn’t shut off your music. Drake’s new album may be straight fire, but this is a BIG no. If you’re going to be playing music through your speakers, the trick is to be mindful. Surprise! Not everyone has the same taste in music as you, and some may find this distracting or even offensive.

If you’re playing music for everyone to hear, you’re more than likely to sing along. Yet, if you’re not Beyoncé (sorry to break it to you) no one wants to hear you sing. Playing music through your speakers can help you on the grind, but keep in mind that no one bought tickets to your own personal concert. Be polite to and courteous of those around you. Pro tip: ask the people around you if there’s a Spotify playlist that everyone would like to listen to that’s appropriate and upbeat, like Summer Hits of the 90’s. Everyone loves Summer Hits of the 90’s.

Now, you may be reading this and asking yourself, “what about using headphones?” The use of headphones can be helpful to anyone who’s trying to shut out the chaos and quiet the noise of the office. We’ve all been there. As easily as they get tangled, headphones can easily solve the issue of listening to your music without disrupting others. But, with headphones, just like everything else in the workplace, there is a fine line between what is right and wrong.

Plugging in your headphones and tuning out everyone and everything else can result in you disengaging from what’s going on around you. Constantly using headphones can cause you to seem unapproachable, leading you to miss out on opportunities to speak to your peers. What’s my trick? Keep one headphone in and leave the other out. This way, you’re able to listen to your music and be aware of your surroundings. Another simple solution is to keep the volume relatively low on both headphones so that if there were a fire in the office, you’d be able to hear everyone’s screams.

To Turn up or Tune out?

At DSM, we’ve got the music thing down pat. Okay, maybe not completely, but we want to hear from you. If you work in an open office and management lets you listen to music, do you put your headphones in or play music for everyone else to hear? How do you tune into your music without tuning out the people around you? Let us know your thoughts about music in the workplace; we’d love to hear them, as long as we can’t hear that horrible song you’re blasting.

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