Gen Z is Changing Work Music Culture | Ziply Fiber

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Gen Z is Changing Work Music Culture

Working from home (WFH) has undoubtedly altered our daily routines. Suits are swapped for sweats, commutes turn into extra sleep and what one opts to listen to (as loudly as they want) no longer needs to be suited for an entire office.


Previously, a safe-for-work playlist had to appeal to multiple generations, span genres and avoid any inappropriate words or subject matter. Now remote workers can curate their workday playlists without any restrictions.

We analyzed over 11,000 songs from 43 WFH playlists on Spotify that have been updated in 2022 to determine which songs and artists were featured the most.

Key Takeaways

  • 20% of the most popular WFH songs are explicit
  • 29% of the most popular WFH songs are also featured in 2022 TikTok trends
  • Harry Styles is the most featured artist on 2022 WFH playlists
  • U2 is the only popular WFH artist that isn’t predominantly associated with the pop genre


Table of Contents

Most Popular WFH Songs

Top 14 WFH songs and their album art

Topping the WFH song chart is Glass Animals’ hit “Heat Waves,” released in 2020, followed by Elton John’s and Dua Lipa’s “Cold Heart - PNAU Remix.” Harry Styles dominates No. 3, with past and present hits “Watermelon Sugar” and “As It Was” tying for third. Four songs tied for No. 4: “This City,” “Peaches (feat. Daniel Caesar & Giveon),” and “Something Just Like This.” Lastly, seven songs rounded out the No. 5: “Feel It Still,” “ily (i love you baby) (feat. Emilee),” “I Like Me Better,” “Beggin’,” “STAY (with Justin Bieber),” “Save Your Tears,” and “Shape of You.”

TikTok’s Influence on Most Popular WFH Songs

It was recently reported that millennials make up the majority of the U.S. workforce at 35%, and Gen Z is now beginning to enter the mix at 5% (LiveCareer). With that in mind, it makes sense that nearly one-third (29%) of the most popular WFH songs are also featured in 2022 TikTok trends. For example, Slingo reported that the cover of the 1967 song “Beggin,” No. 5 on our list released by Eurovision winners Måneskin, is the second most viral TikTok song, having been in more than 9.1 million videos on the platform.

"TikTok has unquestionably given rise to an innovative method of music discovery, which is beneficial for various reasons. In addition, consumers are not only discovering new music from up-and-coming musicians, but this new trend is also bringing about a revival of older music that, if it hadn't been for this development, may have been consigned to the annals of history.

Also, a lot of the thriving music on TikTok is exceptionally catchy… TikTok music trends have undoubtedly affected how people listen to music while working. It is because many of the songs that become popular on TikTok have an earworm quality, making it difficult for people to resist the temptation to listen to them repeatedly, even when they are working,” says James Dyble, music industry consultant at Global Sound Group.

Increase of Explicit Lyrics in Popular Music

Pie chart reflecting percentage of explicit lyrics


Remote workers are clearly taking advantage of their at-home freedom because 20% of the songs listed above have explicit lyrics that aren’t appropriate in an office environment.

The increase of explicit lyrics in top tracks has been an ongoing trend. Researchers at Intelligent Music Agency found that 32.45% of the top 250 songs on TikTok and Spotify in 2021 had explicit lyrics, a significant increase from 2010—2015 when only 18.23% of the top tracks were explicit. This suggests that explicit lyrical content could be a factor in TikTok and Spotify’s virality and trend maximization (Intelligent Music Agency).

Additionally, listening to explicit music may impact one’s actions during the workday. Dr. Alex Faith from National TASC comments, "There have been many studies on this topic, but one of the most comprehensive was conducted by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. They found that individuals who listened to music with explicit lyrics were more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors than those who listened to music with less explicit lyrics." This suggests that listening to explicit music while working may lead someone to make riskier decisions.

Listening to any music in general can impact one’s risk-taking behavior. Researchers from Aalto University conducted research on the topic in 2015; “We find that favorite music increases risk-taking, and disliked music depresses risk-taking relative to the baseline of no music… The frequency for accepting a gamble is 54.1% for favorite music versus 47.4% for disliked music.” (“Risk ON / Risk OFF: Risk-Taking Varies with Subjectively Preferred and Disliked Music“).


Spotify playlist of most popular WFH songs


Most Popular WFH Artists


thumbnail photos of top fifteen WFH music artists

In a list mostly comprising of modern popstars, Harry Styles ranked No. 1, sweeping WFH playlists and landing three songs in the overall top chart with “Watermelon Sugar,” “As It Was,” and “Adore You.” Interestingly, only “As It Was” is from his most recent album Harry’s House.

Despite only having one song, “Shape of You,” in the top chart, Ed Sheeran ranked No. 2, followed by Maroon 5, Coldplay and John Mayer rounding out the top 5.

Taylor Swift (No. 6), Beyoncé (No. 11), Katy Perry (No. 13), U2 (No. 14) and OneRepublic (No. 15) all made it to the Top 15 chart despite not having a song in the most popular WFH music list. This suggests that regardless of not having a specific track that people are listening to during work, their broader collections, old and new, are entertaining remote workers from 9 to 5.

The most surprising result from this analysis was the emergence of U2 as the 14th most popular WFH artist, with their 1987 hit “With Or Without You” being their most featured song on WFH playlists. Not only are they the only artists associated predominantly with the rock genre, they are also the only band whose popularity began before the 2000s.

Another interesting finding was that out of Beyoncé’s vast discography (including her most recent album Renaissance), her most featured song for WFH is “Halo,” from 2008.


Most Popular WFH Albums

Infographic of 2022 top 4 WFH albums

Considering Harry’s dominance on the top songs and artists charts, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Fine Line (2019) and Harry’s House (2022) were the first and third most frequently featured albums on 2022 WFH playlists. Justin Bieber’s Justice (2021) came in at No. 2, followed by Ed Sheeran’s ÷ (2017), which tied with Harry’s House for No. 3.



How We Gathered WFH Music Data

In August our team collected over 11,000 songs from 43 Spotify playlists that include “work from home,” “home office” and “WFH” variations in their titles, and were updated in 2022. We analyzed the data to determine which songs, artists and albums were featured the most frequently.

To identify if a song is featured in 2022 TikTok trends, we referenced this Spotify playlist.


WiFi for the Home Office DJ

When left to their own devices, remote workers are streaming upbeat, often racy pop tracks to bring energy into their home offices. Regardless if you’re blasting Rihanna or Justin Bieber while responding to emails, it’s important to have a wireless connection that lets you to do it all at once. Learn more about working from home with Ziply Fiber.