Workplace productivity: AI, music, and mood control


Recent research suggests that music can affect a worker’s productivity and creativity. Awesome! Enterprise leaders merely have to pipe some music into that office and watch the transformational magic ensue!

The problem with doing that is not everyone is motivated or inspired by the same music. The hip hop lover’s rapture may be the classic rock fan’s torture; the country lover’s heaven may be the EDM fan’s hell. Fortunately, as a recent survey on the listening habits of workers shows, most employees are able to call their own tunes (or podcasts).

The survey of more than 1,000 employees and employers about workplace music’s effect on productivity (and what types of music workers prefer) comes from Cloud Cover Music, a company offering a music service to companies designed to improve productivity.

Among the highlights of the survey:

  • In workplaces that allow audio, 82.2% of employees can listen to their own audio selections, while 17.8% must endure whatever drek their overlords pipe in through the office speakers.
  • More than 80% of survey respondents listen to audio at work either all day (41.8%) or at least a couple of times a day (39.5%).
  • Music easily was the top audio choice among respondents (94.4%), followed by radio (42.4%), podcasts (35.4%), news (25.4%), audiobooks (15.3%), and sports (15.1%).

Genres deemed most likely to increase productivity were classic rock (31.0%), alternative (27.4%), and pop (26.1%), while respondents cited hip hop (37.7%), heavy metal (37.1%), and EDM (27.7%) as the most distracting types of music.

But what if it can be determined through artificial intelligence (AI) exactly which types of music make an individual employee or group of workers most productive? That would seem to be a good thing for workers; who doesn’t want to be more productive?

On the other hand, what if enterprises used this knowledge to “program” workers to be more productive? True, companies that use music services already are attempting to influence employee (or visitor) moods, but using AI could move the needle from mood control to mind control, or at least the nagging appearance of mind control.

I know this may sound like a weird thing to wonder about, but it’s another example of how AI can infiltrate every part of our work and personal lives. And each step along with way will raise questions and concerns.

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