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What's on Your Playlist? Our Song Recommendations: In the Back Office or on the Jobsite

‹ Back To Blog HomeWhat's on Your Playlist? Our Song Recommendations: In the Back Office or on the Jobsite

 

A contractor adjusts the EQ on a Milwaukee jobsite wireless radio

Last month, we asked which construction movies and TV shows you were binging. And while unwinding to enjoy a hilarious classic like Multiplicity (or a guilty pleasure like Fools Rush In) is a perfectly acceptable way to clear your mind on the weekend in anticipation of a busy work week, who said there aren’t also enjoyable ways to help you stay productive during the week?  

After all, increasing productivity doesn’t ONLY have to be achieved through using asset inventory management or construction software to optimize your operations for maximized uptime and timely completion of projects.  

For many of us on the One-Key team, that’s where a good playlist comes in. We believe that there is a perfectly appropriate song for every mood, while some genres and styles of music may lend themselves better to certain kinds of tasks than others. As a quick, anecdotal example, I personally find heavy metal to be more helpful to me when I’m doing more tedious types of work, like filling out spreadsheets, while I find more intricate, melodic, and atmospheric instrumental music (whether jazz, classical, or ambient soundscapes) more conducive to creative types of work.   

It goes without saying that the types of music any of us dig on is completely subjective. That said, here’s how we’ve approached structuring this article:  

  • Part I: We’ve included our team’s recommended songs about construction and tracks that we generally feel are good for some decent head bopping, foot tapping, and the like on jobsites. Jobsites are, of course, noisy places, so we feel more powerful rock tunes make more sense in this context. (Slow, subdued piano ballads with whispered vocals aren’t as likely to break through all the background noise.) 
  • Part II: We’ve included our team’s recommended songs for back offices or tool cribs.  

We’ve also embedded our Spotify playlists from our team account in each of these sections of the article. These are collaborative playlists, so we encourage you to add your favorite tunes to our growing playlists if you’re a Spotify user. We are always looking for a good song rec! 

Quick Disclaimer: Is Music Actually Good for Productivity?  

Now, first off: does music really help with productivity (i.e., backed up by science)? That’s hard to say definitively because it’s such a subjective thing to measure. As BBC points out, the debate of whether music is good for productivity has been raging on for decades.  

Here’s what some research studies have found over the years: 

  • One study (conducted as early as 1941), which took place at a factory, found that music not only increased output by 12.5-15%, but in fact when no music was used production dropped by 13%. 
  • Meanwhile, another study found that vocals had an effect on whether the listener’s performance improved or worsened—that is, background music without lyrics was more likely to increase worker satisfaction and productivity than music with lyrics. They concluded that “songs with lyrics are likely to reduce worker attention and performance.”  
  • A famous 1993 study published in Nature, through which the popularized termMozart effect entered into popular culture, caused people to think listening to Mozart would make you smarter or perform better on standardized tests. A related study made an important distinction: that preference (that is, if you like music, or a certain kind of music, versus if you’d prefer not to listen to music) may have the biggest impact on whether music will positively or negatively impact your productivity.  

Thus, you may find you personally perform better with your favorite tunes. So, if that’s the case, more power to you! Just keep in mind, not everyone’s productivity is impacted in the same way, so make sure to be respectful to your coworkers!   

Part I: Songs about Building and Construction  

Here are our top picks for songs construction-related songs 

  1. If you’re looking for a classic earworm from an American rock icon, Bruce Springsteen’s “Working on the Highwayis your anthem which springs (no pun intended) to mind the sound and smell of vibrating jackhammers busting up cement (did we mention there’s a better, faster way to do that?), and pavers laying asphalt.  
  2. If you enjoy a good country tune, Alan Jackson’s “Hard Hat and a Hammerpays tribute to the hard and important work construction workers undertake to shape the built worlds that surround us. This difficult work is challenged even more by the growing skilled labor shortage in the industry, and increases the need for asset inventory management software to maximize jobsite uptime by ensuring your skilled trades have what they need, when they need it! As he astutely puts it: God bless the working man.”  
  3. Starship’s “We Built This Citymakes us equal parts dreamy for the 80s, excited about rock ‘n roll, and giggly about synth. What better, more bad-to-the-bone way is there to pay homage to the building/construction industry than with notions of rock ‘n roll-reinforced infrastructure? Fun (or perhaps infuriating) fact: GQ reported on how this catchy earworm has been “the most detested song in human history,” a fact with which we wholeheartedly disagree. Maybe we like an underdog, or maybe it’s the special place in our hearts that obscure 80s synth pop occupies, but when the pre-chorus “Marconi plays the mamba” is sung, we can’t help but turn to our reverberating jobsite boombox, impassioned, and echo “Listen to the radio!” I mean, come on, GQ! What sentiment is there that’s cooler than, “We built this city (on rock and roll)”? \m/ 

Tangentially Related Songs That Rock for the Jobsite  

Okay, maybe these tracks aren’t literally about construction work, building a house, or what have you, but they do rock.  

  1. Working Man,” Rush arguably one of the coolest rock songs about the working stiff, the rock anthem for the working man!  
  2. Workin for a Livin, Huey Lewis & the News – if “Working Man” is the anthem for the working man, then Huey Lewis & the News gives us the anthem for all those who actually work for a living. While better known for the Back to the Future-featured “Power of Love,” we also recommend the hard-hitting rock version of that number, performed by Marty McFly & The Pinheads. Fun fact: Huey Lewis has a cameo in this scene as the talent show judge who cuts The Pinheads off, mid-song, for being “too darn loud. Gets me every time. 
  3. Feeling drained midweek? Grand Funk Railroad’s “Inside Looking Out” is where it’s at for getting remotivated. Beside killer harmonica and guitar solos that are great for getting in a rockin’ mood, the lyrics are nearly tailor-made for construction trades (just substitute “burlap bags” for driving nails, laying concrete, what have you, and it’s perfect for driving this sentiment home): “Ice cold water is runnin' through my veins. / They try and drag me back to work again. / Pain and blisters on my mind and hands. / I work all day making up burlap bags.”  
  4. Takin’ Care of Business,” Bachman-Turner Overdrive title says it all.  

A jobsite wireless radio on a job cart

Songs that just flat-out rock: 

  1. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You),AC/DC – this iconic rock anthem is the quintessential “let’s go!” tune to blast at the start of any workday. You ready? It’s going to be a rocking day.  
  2. Bad to the Bone,” George Thorogood & The Destroyers – at the same rate as the above-mentioned AC/DC track is good for starting the day, Bad to the Bone might serve as what you play while leaving the jobsite, headed to that Friday hangout spot. I mean, when Arnold boards that Harley Fat Boy and takes off into the night, iconic. 
  3. Fortunate Son,” Creedence Clearwater Revival – This is a go-to track for me when taking a motorcycle ride (because it has an exceeding cool factor), but it also makes for a great outdoor jam that’s sure to get people headbanging and raising the sign of the horns. Its appearance in the film War Dogs is also pretty amusing.  

 

Part II: Songs for the Back Office or Tool Crib  

Where subdued vocals on a noisy jobsite might be less practical, in an office setting they (or absence of vocals entirely) may be more desirable. As Rob Gordon (John Cusack) in High Fidelity amusingly put it, “I don’t want to hear old sad bastard music. I just want something I can ignore.” 

With that in mind, our recommended genres in this section are probably even more subjective.  

  • Shoegaze, an ambient genre of music whose name actually originally referred to the instrumentalists (who heavily used effects pedals) spending an inordinate amount of time gazing down at their shoes in order to effectively set their pedals/levels. Examples include Slowdive, or Mogwai, a group known for cinematic music that has earned them the distinct privilege of scoring documentary films. When vocals are there, they’re typically subdued.  
  • Indie rock – less in-your-face instrumentals (unassuming guitar solos and vocals). 

 

Additional playlists/albums worth checking out (staff picks) 

  • Our team member, Kristin, recommends this one. In her own words: “I listen to this one because its chill and relaxing! Its a good one for the morning to set up your day and figure out what is your plan of action for the day. 
  • One of our team’s programmers, Ryan Z., whose musical enjoyments are wide-ranging, has recommended anyone from rock legends Jerry Garcia and Pink Floyd to rhythmic, vocal-driven artists like Bob Dylan and rap-driven hip-hop like 2pac, to ambient instrumentalists like Brian Eno, Stars of the Lid, and Gas. He recommends, for example, Sigur Rós’sÁgætis byrjun which provides a sprawling, slow building climax. (Sidenote: I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation, and might add that they put on one of the best live shows I’ve seen in recent memory.) He also recommends video game and movie scores for a similar effect, and recommends Android: Netrunner Playlist and Machi Koro Legacy Playlist. 
  • Jake B., our visual designer, recommends to LoFi Beats playlist on Spotify for when “reading or writing. It's definitely in a similar realm with jazz.”  
That's it from us, for now. Happy listening—get rockin’ and rollin’!

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