Working from home: what music to listen to

Working from home: 9 soothing soundscapes to listen to if you need a concentration boost

Posted by for Life

If you’re feeling stressed out by working from home, then give one of these ambient music videos a try.

If you’re used to the noise and hubbub of the office, working from home in relative silence may prove challenging – especially when your mind is half-focused on the task at hand, half-fretting about the constant stream of coronavirus updates popping up in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

With this in mind, it’s definitely worth having something on in the background. After all, research has regularly shown us that listening to music can relax and restore us. Better still, though, is the fact that listening to the right kind of music improves our concentration and makes us more productive, too.

So what is the right kind of music, then? Well, one member of the Working From Home With Stylist community on Facebook recently suggested that we give ambient soundscapes a try – and her recommendation comes fully backed up by science, too.

First things first: what is a soundscape?

The word “soundscape” was coined by composer R. Murray Schafer to identify sounds that “describe a place, a sonic identity, a sonic memory, but always a sound that is pertinent to a place.”

Why are soundscapes so conducive to working from home? 

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently discovered that soundscapes – particularly those which include nature sounds – enhance our cognitive functioning, optimise ourability to concentrate, and increase overall worker satisfaction.

Better still, the mountain stream sound researchers used in their study also possessed enough randomness that it didn’t distract test subjects.

It seems this sense of randomness is key to finding the best soundscape for your working day. As Brian Eno, creator of Music for Airports says: “Ambient music must be able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.”

Which soundscapes should I be listening to?

Here’s our pick of the nine most soothing soundscapes to listen to when you’re working from home.

  • Fantasy Soundscape

    Filled with the healing sounds of rain, thunder and gentle music, this is the perfect accompaniment to a quiet hour or so of reading.

  • Pocahontas’ Village Soundscape

    Disney fans will definitely enjoy this Pocahontas-inspired soundscape, which blends the sounds of running water, crunching leaves underfoot, rushing winds, crickets chirping and distant voices with the classic Colours Of The Wind melody.

  • Tropical Island Beach Soundscape

    Listen to the waves crash against the white sands as you tap-tap-tap away at that keyboard for a guaranteed mood-booster.

  • Forest Birds

    Gentle woodland sounds such as birdsong and the breeze rustling leaves in the trees are more relaxing than meditation recordings, according to a recent study. So why not try this gentle birdsong on for size?

  • Relaxing Jazz In The Night

    According to research from Cambridge Sound Management, intelligible words force us to shift focus from our work to figuring out what someone is saying. In fact, speech distracts about 48% of us, so why not skip the lyrics and opt for a cheering jazz soundscape instead? 

  • The Hogwarts Study Session

    Fancy some Harry Potter-inspired ambience? Try this on for size: the crackling fires, distant storms and steady rainfall will help you get your Hermione Granger on and stay focused.

  • Relaxing Music (With Water Sounds)

    This soundscape is incredibly peaceful to have on in the background. 

  • Skyrim’s Music & Ambience (Rainy Towns)

    Storms combine with gentle fantasy-inspired music in this soundscape.

  • ‘Snowed In’

    Pour yourself a mug of cocoa and make-believe you’re in a cosy wooden cabin surrounded by fluffy white snow. Bliss.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: Getty

Share this article

Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Recommended by Kayleigh Dray