Hitting the right notes at work5 min read . Updated: 12 Feb 2020, 03:27 PM IST
Startups as well as corporates are encouraging employees to pursue their passion by forming music bands and performing as a way to create a positive office environment
It was while chatting with a colleague in 2018 that Mehul Kumar finally had a chance to fulfil his mother’s wish for him: to become a musician.
Every year, consumer electronics company Harman International celebrates Make Music Day and gives its employees an opportunity to showcase their talent of singing and playing music. For the past two years, guitarist Kumar, 25, and his three colleagues have been participating in the celebrations as a contemporary music band, Page 404.
Knowing that Kumar manages the band, Harman’s human resources (HR) team regularly approaches to present performances at the company’s several shows. And Kumar, who works as a software engineer, likes the attention. “I’m recognized and appreciated by colleagues, and the fact that I am part of a music band is a great conversation starter with peers. It also helps relieve work stress, which is perhaps the biggest plus," says Kumar.
Like Harman International, there are some companies that recognize and encourage the power of music in improving collaboration, work performance and management skills at the workplace.
“Performing on stage with several colleagues energizes you, helps everyone become part of a community and results in positive interactions in the office," says Jasleen K. Makkar, senior director, who leads the Make Music Day at Harman International.
The reason for the push is that companies realize that in today’s fast-paced life, employees need an outlet for stress, says Ramon Llamba, therapist and life coach based in Gurugram. “Music is also an effective way to bring out better performances and productivity," she adds.
Pursuing music after office hours becomes much more convenient when your bandmates are colleagues.
“It’s easy to catch hold of people in the same office since you get to see them everyday and can have more frequent talks and plan for a gig. It also saves you from the evening traffic (in case you are pursuing music in some other part of the city)," says Harshit Goyal, 22, a software engineer and a singer who started music band Greenhorn Ensemble at his office, Enquero, a Bengaluru-based enterprise software company.
Then there’s the fact that being part of the same company and pursuing the same goal means you understand each other’s workload and work around deadlines and projects.
Prabhash Bachhuwan, 23, growth marketeer with software firm Mercer Mettl, has been strumming guitar in Parabola, a blues rock band, since 2018. The bandmates, all colleagues, meet in every evening to jam either in the office or at one of their houses. “Bandmates from the same office understand each other’s job responsibilities and challenges better, making adjustments for practice," he says.
Since most band members work together and spend nearly 8-9 hours together, they already know each other’s idiosyncrasies, quirks and ways to play up their strengths, adds Aman Sharma, 26, design and creative lead at Mercer Mettl. “You know them from their work. And so, working with them as bandmates becomes easier, and we help each other improve musically like we do at work," adds Sharma, who’s a percussionist in Parabola.
Another benefit is that company bands get several chances to perform. Though the members of Parabola started their band as a passion project, thanks to regular practice, they have performed at festivals, team-building parties and open mic sessions. “Management support in practice and performance has helped us become better musicians and also more effective and present at work," says Bacchuwan.
Bonding over music
When band members give up weekends, sleep and personal time to practice, it leads to bonds with colleagues that can last a lifetime.
“I have a tight knit relationship with colleagues from various departments," says Chennai’s Manoj Krishnan, 31, who is an engineering manager at Freshworks, a enterprise solutions company, and one of the founders of The Freshworks Band.
The band’s requirements for funds, practice space and performance discussions has made him meet not only the leadership team but also investors. “Being part of the band has changed my visibility. Introductions are shorter, it’s easier to start conversations with new colleagues, and my CEO knows me and makes it a point to appreciate, encourage and arrange for our practice and equipment," says Krishnan.
For an office music group to succeed, leadership’s support is a must, says Sindhuja Pothumanchi, 29, a senior engineer, who formed the band CDK Unplugged at Hyderabad-based software services company CDK Global, last year.
“Our company’s managing director is a music enthusiast himself," she says. That’s the reason the company has paid for a music room, provided instruments and encouraged the band to perform. Though sometimes project deadlines push practice sessions, Pothumanchi has seen days when members’ managers push meetings to accommodate practice sessions.
For Aditi Kunte, 24, who has just joined the company and CDK Unplugged, the band is a chance to form relationships with colleagues and build an identity while pursuing her passion. “I feel good when someone comes to me and says ‘Hey, your performance was good’," she says.
Goyal, who joined Enquero right after college, has found that he has been able to make friends easily thanks to music. “It creates a sense of involvement at the workplace. It’s not just a place where I go to work but also pursue my passion," he says.
Bengaluru’s Sharada Raghavan credits her performance in her company’s band, Sargam, for making her better at work.
“My time management, presentation and people skills have all improved since I joined the band," says Raghavan, 32, who works as a software developer at Siemens Healthineers, a medical technology company. When Raghavan first joined the band in 2010, she was younger than most of her colleagues, but band duties meant she had to organize practice sessions, and work with management teams for their annual music festival. “I’m more disciplined in my work, all thanks to the skills I learnt as being part of a band," she says.
Music is a great way to make the workplace a positive zone, believes Joy George, HR head, CDK Global. “Everyone loves music. Most importantly, he says, a music band turns the office into a space that people look forward to coming back to after a vacation or on a dreary Monday morning. Write to us at email@example.com