I keep writing about how much I like the work culture here at Apex Process Consultants, but I thought I’d talk a little about how we use music during collaboration. When I was hired, one of the things Dave Knapp (our President)told me was about how Apex plays music in the workplace and the method they use to choose the music.

I think this arose somewhat organically across several projects, but by the time I joined Apex the process worked like this:

While we’re working collaboratively, we use a communal Bluetooth speaker and each hour one of the team gets to play an album or playlist. After the hour, another person can pick. And so on. Everybody gets to pick.

Does music help you get more work done? Maybe? Studies show that music changes brainwave patterns which might suggest an effect on focus and cognitive efficiency. But whether that effect is a positive or negative one, may depend on whether you enjoy the music or merely let it get you into a state of deep focus. The evocative nature of music can result in a variety of emotional outcomes, depending on many factors.

It’s not mandatory, but it gives a chance for the team to learn about your musical tastes — or perhaps they learn that you like trying out new music? Or have a huge affinity for 1980s hair bands? Or grunge? Or perhaps you’re a Fanilow?

So this prompted me to wonder several things:

  • Do people like music at work?
  • If people do use non-headphoned music at work, does it make for a good work environment?
  • What music works well with your teams? Can you share your favorite work playlists or streaming channels with us? (Safe-for-work playlists only, please!)

To kick it off, here are a few Spotify and Pandora links that have worked well for our “listen while we work” sessions.

This upbeat list is a bit eclectic, but with random shuffle and a 60 min listening window, it works well with others.

One of our team members is a big fan of 1970’s Prog-Rock and suggested this playlist.

Some folks like Electronica without lyrics. Sometimes the eclectic mix of World Music is a nice shakeup to standard radio-fare. So far literally nobody has tried to share Swedish Death Metal with our workgroup — but perhaps that’s your favorite?

[Update 11/6/2019] Here's a recent graph from Stack Overflow's 2019 Developer Survey.  I think the graphic is interesting in that it reflects a lot of core use of rock, electronica, jazz and many subcategories.

Larger circles reflect bigger reported use. Source: Stack Overflow

Why should I guess when there’s no need? Why don’t you share your favorite work playlists with us! Tell us what you think about music at work. We’d love to hear from you.