“Without music, life would be a mistake.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

If you work in an office, you likely wear — or encounter someone who wears — headphones. But do you ever stop to ponder what your colleagues listen to, and why?

Some people listen to music for creativity and inspiration; others listen for plain old noise reduction or the ability to focus. And there’s a growing population of headphone-wearers who eschew music entirely and listen instead to podcasts (but that’s a whole other topic.)

There’s no question that music affects mood (blast Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off to a group of ‘tween girls and take note), but it can also motivate, inspire and/or help alter a less than ideal mood.

Music affects listeners beyond the inclination to toe-tap. Studies have shown that music has a direct affect on brain function, enhancing emotion, attention and learning/neuroplasticity.

And music is a dynamic force as far as memory is concerned. A 2009 University of California study determined that part of the brain associates music and memories. People, it seems, experience emotionally relevant episodic memories that are triggered by familiar songs from their past. This means your own music can reconnect you with deep, meaningful memories and people from your distant past.

It also helps us connect to people in the present by facilitating communication, bonding, and inspiration and creating a sense of shared connection and common interests. It can also spark those “Eureka” moments of insight and unity, as opposed to defaulting to pre-judged notions, e.g., “I’m not the only person at the company who loves Broadway show tunes!”

And, music has an impact on our ability to work with each other. A team of Cornell University researchers recently found evidence that what we listen to at work might influence how willing we are to cooperate with our co-workers. The researchers discovered that “happy music significantly and positively influences cooperative behavior.” They also found “a significant positive association between mood and cooperative behavior.”

Listening to — and playing — music can make you smarter, happier, healthier and more productive at all stages of life, but when making a choice of what to listen to at work, consider some factors:

  • How does music affect your mood? Mood affects how you interact with your co-workers. If you feel happier, you tend to be more respectful, patient, and cooperative, which can lead to better teamwork, performance, and productivity.
  • Choose music you feel relieves stress, which can compromise focus and performance.
  • Depending on the focus required, choose different styles: if you’re jamming on a creative design you might need energetic music, whereas the deep focus needed for writing might necessitate instrumental surrounds. More mundane tasks might require songs that make you sing (and tap your toes).

The music you choose says a lot about you, and it has proven to connect you uniquely and deeply with your colleagues — and with your fellow human beings.

The next time you search for a playlist, please consider ours: Rebel has curated a public playlist, which is unique like you and like the people who work here (and we just love to share). We hope you’re inspired by the variety and find joy and focus in new music to work by and with.

Either click here to access our playlist OR:

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Follow Us and/or listen to our public Music to Work By playlist for free!

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