Improving productivity, with beats!

Improving productivity, with beats!

Working within a team, who all have such varied skillsets, the crash and bang of creative people coming together inevitably evokes the phrase 'our culture'. I have to admit, this makes me cringe slightly... I don't want to come across like a lot of agencies using that phrase do.

With 'our culture', comes our attitude, our work ethic, our personality and, most importantly, our music. We like to think we get repeat business from our clients because of the great work we do, the way we do it, and who we are both as individuals and as an organisation.

Studies by PPL and PRS claim research shows 87% of the workforce believe music boosts employee morale. However, I don't just think music boosts morale; I genuinely believe it helps me work better. Admittedly, sometimes if I'm struggling with a particular coding problem, or trying to write a document that requires my complete attention – and, as someone who cannot multitask, most do! I need absolute silence. But, generally, I find the lack of background music makes me work at a slower pace.

So I thought I'd ask a few of my colleagues if they feel the same way and find out what ‘jams their toast’ when it comes to tunes to improve work rate.

I figured I'd start of with myself first. I've always claimed to be reasonably eclectic but, if I'm honest, I'm mostly into alternative rock/indie/folk. While this can be good for background music, when I need to knuckle down and work hard, I like something with a bit more of a beat to hone in on. I have four artists, or rather four albums, in particular that make me work like a demon;

Four Tet: There Is Love In You
F*#k Buttons: Tarot Sports
Caribou: Swim
Super Discount Volume 1: Various Artists complied by Etienne De Crecy

Whether pumping out some irregular beats as 5:30pm on a Friday approaches, or on a Tuesday morning when a deadline looms, I can rely and my old faithfuls to keep me on the right track.


Mark Neil - Technical Manager

When in the office and concentrating, for me it needs to be motivating, but not distracting. When driving, I always found something I could sing along to; Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, Ill Papa Giraffe, Texture, Twin Lizard, The Eaters or dEUS, always kept me alert and helped pass the time.

Now that I’m I'm officially ‘old’, Radio 4 plays a large part of my driving experience, as do my very own creations!

Alabama 3 - Exile On Coldharbour Lane or La Peste
Story One - Disposable
Death Grips - Government Plates
Soulsavers – Broken

Mark Neil

Chuck Cumming - Editor

I think my music taste can only be described as eclectic - everything from Nordic heavy metal like Týr, or the industrial driven Fear Factory through Portishead’s electronic ambience. Then on into the sounds of the 80s; Erasure and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, then right out into obscure 20s & 30s ragtime and jazz.

It’s like my Spotify playlist got hit on the head and can’t remember where it’s been for the last 30 years!

Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile
Various Artists: Texas & Tennesee Territory Bands: 1928-1931
Tyr: Valkyrja
Depeche Mode: Playing The Angel
Sisters of Mercy: Floodland
The Orb: The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

Chuck Cumming

Calum Baird - Editor

Music motivates me; it focuses my mind. The higher the tempo, the more pressing the deadline. I opt for music without lyrics, and the more industrial it is the more creative I feel.

Boards of Canada - Tomorrow's Harvest
Geographer - Animal Shapes
Godspeed You! Black Emperor - f# a# ∞
Mogwai - Rave Tapes
Justice - Audio, Video, Disco
Nine Inch Nails: Ghosts I-IV

Calum Baird

Graham Gilhooley - Senior Designer

"I need music in my working life, silence promotes thoughts other than creative work and encourages me to get lost in them.

My musical preferences vary dramatically and sometimes this leads me to places I’d rather they didn’t! You cannot deny yourself a power ballad now and again to really expand your mind and free yourself from emotions barricading your creative thoughts.

My playlist depicts my day in music from start to finish; mixing mild soulful beats with low base house and some bouncy electronica in there for good measure. 

Mathew E. White: Big Inner
Jungle: Jungle
Bonobo: Black Sands Remix

Graham's also put together a Spotify playlist, check it out

Graham Gilhoooey

I appreciate music in the office isn't for everyone, it doesn't work in every environment and, occasionally, albeit rare, it will evoke heckles of "it's not music, it's just noise" or "Dylan can't sing" (heathens, I know!).

I urge you to think about it, particularly if you don't have music in your workplace. Watch your colleagues a little bit closer. Do any of them seek solace in what their headphones emit when they’re busy?

I'm a firm believer music can be used to focus the mind. Pick the right tunes and give it a shot!


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Improving productivity, with beats!
Written by Graham Stewart

Head of Digital & Emerging Technologies at 20/20 Productions

20/20 Productions Europe Ltd
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t: +44 (0) 131 668 2020
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