The Best Music for Working from Home (+ Playlist Examples)

Listening to music while working from home.
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One of the perks of working from home is having control of how I listen to music. 

That might be on my headphones, but generally I can play my favorite tunes through my external speakers connected to my laptop. 

And while you certainly can listen to music in an office too, it’s often a distraction to others if you don’t have headphones on. Plus, your company might even have a policy against it too. Yuck!

Below you’ll learn the power of music on productivity, what the best music to work from home is, and some recommended playlists. Let’s jump in. 

Benefits of Music While Working from Home 

I wanted to start around the benefits of listening to music when working from home

Of course, every person is unique and there will be times where you may need silence to get into deep focus. 

But I was curious about the research or data behind music and the impact of productivity. Mostly because I’m sure there are naysayers or managers who think music while working is a major distraction. 

Here’s some interesting things I found:

  • Background music has been found to improve our performance on cognitive tasks, such as spatial or verbal ability tests, for short periods of time
  • A meta-analysis found that music therapy is an effective way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
  • The study Trends in Cognitive Science found that music has a better impact on stress and anxiety than actual anti-anxiety medication.
  • According to Merriam Saunders, psychotherapist and adjunct assistant professor in the counseling psychology department of Dominican University: “Music can have a dopaminergic effect on the brain, meaning it creates dopamine,” Saunders said. “Dopamine is what stimulates the prefrontal cortex, which is the center of the brain responsible for planning, organizing, inhibition control and attention.” (Source).
  • In a 2016 Totaljobs survey, 79% of respondents said they’re more productive if they listen to music while they work. Among the survey’s 4,553 respondents, 48% said music helped them focus.
  • When you’re comfortable doing something, because you are skilled, experienced, and are more or less in autopilot mode, background music is more likely to help you achieve greater focus.
  • If you have to work on a boring or a simple task, music can enhance your attention by providing extra stimulation to your brain. 
  • A study by the JAMA Network shows that music improves psychological mood when doing repetitive tasks.

Should you listen to music while working at home?

From Business News Daily:

Will Tottle, mental health expert and author of the article series Mind-Boosting Benefits, agrees that music’s effects vary by person.

“For many, music can help someone focus, get more done, and feel motivated,” Tottle said. “However, there are some people who find music very distracting, and their focus drops drastically when listening to music and trying to complete a task.”

So based on the information and research, the info leans more towards yes. But it’s also not so cut and dry because it depends on you as a person and how you prefer to work. 

Test listening to music when you work from home. Try different genres that you like or specific artists. Even test volume levels to see how it helps or distracts you. 

I personally enjoy a nice light background music with no lyrics for deep work where I need to focus more. And lighter tasks, I tend to increase the volume and choose songs with vocals to help motivate me further.

What’s The Best Work From Home Music?

There really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the best work from home music. Your preferences will determine which genres and playlists might be the right choice for you. 

Let’s look at the most common and popular types of music that can stimulate your productivity and mood while working at home.

1. Classical Music 

While I don’t personally listen to classical music when I work from home, it is a popular choice for many remote workers. And yes, there have been some studies around the impact of classic music on productivity and mood as well. 

2. Jazz Music

As you will discover with many of the genres and playlists, it’s not overly aggressive music. It’s various kinds of music that can stimulate your mind, but not be a major distraction. And a popular option here is Jazz. You’ll find no shortage of playlists out there for Jazz. 

3. Lo-Fi Music 

One of my favorite genres of music to start my mornings in the home office is lo-fi. Now there are some variations of lo-fi, I lean more towards the chill and hip hop instrumental versions. You’ll see my go-to embedded below. 

4. Ambient Music 

Work day got you down? Stressed? One of the best relaxing music genres when working from home is ambient. The playlists out there for ambient music can vary quite a bit, so check out a few and find the one that soothes your mind best. 

5. Acoustic Music

Stripped down sounds and songs can be relaxing and mood boosting. If you are looking for calmer sounds, then some acoustic music could be the perfect sounds for your home office. 

6. Piano Music

A popular form of music is heavy on the piano. There are so many variations of playlists that can help elevate your productivity working at home. As I was browsing Spotify, I found a few good ones. 

7. Soul Music

Need a little more groove in your work from home schedule? Then consider putting some soul jams on while you work. There are plenty of options out there, but the Soul Coffee playlist on Spotify is always topnotch. 

8. Pop Music

When you read “Pop” as a music genre,  you may be thinking about what’s on the top radio stations. While that’s totally up to you, there are some really mellow pop playlists that can be great for your productivity. 

Here’s a Chill Pop Playlist from Spotify:

9. White Noise

Maybe you aren’t interested in a particular genre or want vocals. Sometimes you just need some familiar background noise to fill in the silence. 

Once again, Spotify has some playlists that are good white noise fillers. They have ones around household appliances, trains, and the sounds of nature (embedded below). 

You can find some of these white noise playlists on other streaming platforms or Youtube as well. 

10. Video Game Music

Music in video games can also be a solid option to play while working from home. Many soundtracks to these games become popular themselves because of how well done they are pieced together. 

Is it Better to Work in Silence or With Music?

Whether it is better to work from home in silence or with music is really dependent on the person. Everyone has different preferences in what helps boost productivity or is a distraction. It’s best to test for yourself to see what you like, prefer, or when it’s better for silence or music in the background.

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About Todd Kunsman

Todd is the founder of Remote Work Junkie and has been featured in numerous publications like Business Insider, HuffPost, CNBC, and more. He’s been a remote work advocate for close to a decade and has been working remotely full-time for 5+ years. He’s also a marketing, personal finance, and music nerd 🤓

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