With the COVID-19 pandemic ever-present in our daily lives, the challenges that we all face can leave us demotivated with our daily routines, even when we are starting to build towards a more hopeful future.
For businesses that have remained open, such as takeaway-only restaurants and hotels, the challenge of creating a positive work environment every day is a problem in its own right too. Without the feel-good hustle and bustle of keeping customer-occupied spaces moving, it’s totally normal for you and your employees to feel unenthusiastic or deflated by the regimes we’re all working hard to adhere to. So, with a few months left until most hospitality businesses can reopen properly again, what can business owners do to try to alleviate the stress of the outside world during this period? Take a look below at how music might be able to help.
As a business owner, your first instinct might be to opt to switch the music off during the pandemic, seeking a little respite in the space before things restart again. Usually, hospitality businesses are (quite rightly) focused on creating memorable experiences for their customers, and music is a key component of that. In normal times, the soundtrack in your space might be exclusively designed with the customer in mind – catered to the ebb and flow of footfall, happy hours, extended brunches and everything in between.
However, keeping the music playing during the pandemic might be just as important. In fact, it has proven benefits. In a recent study conducted by Michael McPhee and Pablo Ripollés of New York University, their team looked at the different activities people engaged with to help with pandemic related stress. They found that listening to music worked as a kind of antidepressant in the study’s participants, counteracting the effects of pandemic-related stress. They say that whilst “the COVID-19 pandemic has been responsible for a worldwide increase in psychological distress…music was particularly pursued as a means for coping with [the pandemic]”. Their study lends credence to the importance of the ‘new normal’ of shared playlists between friends, virtual concerts and live streams, and another reason to suggest the music should play on even if the world outside has ground to a standstill.
They say that whilst “the COVID-19 pandemic has been responsible for a worldwide increase in psychological distress…music was particularly pursued as a means for coping with [the pandemic]”
So what music should you play during the pandemic? The correct answer here is, well… anything! Let your employees dictate the pace here and listen to their feedback – engage in conversation about their favourite artists, or invite them to design a playlist. Play some tunes you wouldn’t dare play to your usual audience, or maybe dig out some of those upbeat party tracks usually saved for the recesses of your Friday or Saturday evening trade. With that in mind, thinking in terms of trading patterns is still super helpful here. Do your staff feel like they’re lagging a little in the last couple of hours of trading, or need a ‘wind-down’ period at the tail end of the daily routine? Then maybe throw in some mellow classics or electronic chillout to make the daily schedule feel dynamic and varied. In any case, our instincts would be to stick with something moderately upbeat, in both lyrics and musical key.
During customer-friendly times, we at Ambie like to keep the playlist fresh and updated for the benefit of employees and customers alike, and whilst COVID-19 keeps us all indoors this is arguably even more important. Without the relentless din of customers in your business, playing music will feel more present in your space, and your staff might tire quickly if they’re hearing repeat tracks. We spoke to Norma, a restaurant in London, last year about keeping the music on during the pandemic and they waxed lyrical about how the playlists could elevate their employees mood: “When it comes on in the morning when we are setting up they actually turn it up and are often using their phone apps to identify the tracks that are playing, which has to be a compliment”.
“When it comes on in the morning when we are setting up they actually turn it up and are often using their phone apps to identify the tracks that are playing, which has to be a compliment”
By keeping the playlist long and varied your space inside can become a temporary refuge from the worries of COVID-19 on the outside. If you are playing music all day, maybe think about taking some enforced time out where the soundtrack is turned down or off completely. Listening fatigue is a real thing and not everyone responds to music in the same way, so you might decide to add a couple of hours in your working day where dedicated quiet or group conversation can take place. All Star Lanes spoke to us last year about the flexibility of the Ambie system in normal times when deciding the hours music should be played: “We have given our General Managers access to the main Ambie portal so the music offering can be tailored to their own unique venue, dependant on time of day”. However you decide to use music during this time, taking some time to crowdsource some opinions from your staff is probably the best option for everyone involved.
Looking after everyone in your business in this difficult time is important, and this is also an opportunity to re-tool, re-connect and and re-focus on the things that matter. Adding a bit of aural brightness to your space and the benefits of that might last long into a healthy, COVID-free future. If you’re struggling to find the time or need an expert opinion on the music to play during the pandemic, we at Ambie can help.
Whether you need someone to create something from scratch or replicate a playlist that you or your staff have created, get in touch with us or email firstname.lastname@example.org.