Work environments today are noisy and distracting. As Maria Konnikova writes in a recent New Yorker article, open office plans are a big culprit. One study describes the effects of open environments as “damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.” One effect of open environments is that now many office workers sport headphones and use music to reduce distraction levels.
Music isn’t necessarily a panacea for increasing productivity; it can be a distraction itself. Konnikova cites a study by psychologist Nick Pelham that showed music impaired the mental acuity of his subjects. But one company, focus@will, claims to have the solution. They produce music tracks they say have been optimized for allowing the listener to focus and concentrate. […]