May 19th, 2006 - Open Knowledge
May. 19th, 2006
Can personal stereos improve productivity?
Greg R. Oldham
In today's workforce, managers are often challenged to improve employee productivity. Providing music to employees via personal stereo headsets such as the Sony Walkman is one strategy that may help achieve that goal.
Personal stereos and headsets have grown in popularity so much in the past 20 years that they can now be found in nearly every imaginable setting, from health clubs to libraries. However, they are seldom found in the workplace. Most employees do not have the option listening to music on headsets while they work. This is not to suggest that music is seldom played at work. On the contrary, some estimates indicate that over 135,000 businesses worldwide use music at work. But these businesses typically provide music via background systems -- not stereo headsets. With background systems, speakers located in ceilings and walls throughout the workplace provide one type of music programming to all employees at the same time. Employees have little choice but to listen to the music that has been selected for their particular work shift.
The benefits of music
The effects of background music systems have been studied extensively in independent research as well as in studies sponsored by firms that market the systems, such as the Muzak company. Most studies show a productivity increase of about 5 percent after background systems have been installed.
Why does music have this effect? Advocates offer two explanations. One is that music elevates or enhances employees' moods. Proponents argue that music boosts enthusiasm, increases relaxation and lessens nervousness, and that these elevated mood states contribute to higher productivity. The second explanation is that music masks distracting sounds, such as extraneous conversations and machine sounds. When these sounds are masked, employees are better able to concentrate on their jobs, resulting in higher levels of productivity.
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11:48 am - Stone Golem
The Stone Golem: best costume ever.
"...This Stone Golem was constructed using about 5 foam mattresses, over 50 sticks of hot melt glue, and 8 cans of grey and black spray paint. The foam is glued in large thick sheets (approx 20cm thick) to a fabric bodysuit, and the deep cracks are carved into the foam surface. The bodysuit has a zip up the back to allow the wearer to enter it, and the zip is concealed by abutting foam. The soles of the feet are made of corflute that has been sliced in half to expose corrugations that act as grip. The arms are about twice the length of the wearer\'s arms, and act as swinging weapons made entirely of soft foam. The golem took about 100 hours of work to construct, between 3 people. On its first appearance, the Stone Golem sent twenty bold adventurers into a hasty retreat without so much as touching them.
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