Is your business tuned into fast growth?
2012-06-22 10:35 - 547 reads
What’s the soundtrack to your business? A gentle babble of productivity? A riot of noise and disruption? Or a blanket of silence so thick that you can hear a pin not just drop, but cut the air on its way down too?
If you’re in the latter category you are, apparently, in the minority too. New research from PPL, the agency responsible for licensing music in the UK, has found that more than three quarters of small and medium-sized businesses think that playing music in the workplace improves productivity, and creates a better working environment with staff picking up from the good vibrations.
The survey, which polled just upwards of 1,000 UK small business owners, shows a surprisingly passionate attitude towards music. According to PPL, around one fifth (22%) of entrepreneurs are so geed up about having music playing while they work that they would actually shut up shop rather than work in a silent environment.
In these times of economic uncertainty, I’m personally not sure that I could name many business owners who would turn down trade if they weren’t able to turn up the radio. But I do think that there’s an interesting sentiment to the research that also ties into the bigger issue of SME productivity.
The effect that music can have on sporting performance is well documented (if equally well debated). Dr Costas Karageorghis, a reader of sport psychology at Brunel University, and colleague David-Lee Priest assert that listening to music while exercising can improve our endurance by around 15%. An earlier study suggests that it can also help us run faster – with the Rocky theme serving as a particular booster.
It’s a little more difficult to translate that to our workplaces. Listening to your iPod on full blast might be good for those early-morning step sprints for instance, but can it really help us put together a better sales plan or become more productive? After all, music’s impact on exercise is based on how it stimulates certain parts of our brain.
But according to research from the University of Windsor in Canada, which found that knowledge workers completed tasks more efficiently while listening to music. It’s somewhat akin to the Mozart effect, the idea that listening to classical music as youngsters makes us smarter. And similar research into clothes at Northwestern University in the US suggests that the more professionally we dress, the harder we work.
Now, taking a step back, I’m not suggesting that we all run out and buy tailored suits and The Very Best of Classical Chillout for our workplaces. Thinking big isn’t just about the external factors that influence your business growth and how you can navigate them – it’s also about how you compose things internally.
Ultimately, that’s about what’s right for your business. Yes, the research might say that music will get your people working harder. But if that makes the customer experience worse should you do it? Breaking the silence is not the greatest addition to all businesses. There’s a difference in scale between playing samba in a sandwich shop and blaring rock in a bookshop.
From my point of view, it’s about finding the right mix between productivity and practicality.