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How Distractions Are Hampering Productivity At Work

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Are you easily distracted even when you’re doing something you enjoy? If so, you’re in good company!

A Harvard study revealed our minds wander off about 47% of the time.

Learning to concentrate for longer periods will improve your performance and achievements at work, in sports, and at leisure.

Some people are more susceptible to distraction than others. One cause may be that you’ve got a large brain! Yes, too much grey matter in some brain regions may be how your attention is easily diverted.

Younger people’s brain development is likely to affect their concentration levels.

Plus, there’s always a lot to distract us now we’re connected via our smartphones to news and social media 24 hours a day.

Smartphones

Companies work tirelessly to improve worker productivity; removing distractions is a core part of the process. For example, you may be with an organization with policies for phone use and social media access.

Over the past decade, there have been many studies on smartphones in the workplace.

In 2016, 55% of employers said smartphones hampered worker productivity, and 66% of workers admitted to using their phones throughout the day.

In the same study, eight out of ten workers said their phone doesn’t distract them.

Companies have since had to roll back policies blocking access to sites during work hours, and some have even banned smartphone use.

Smartphones still distract workers, but they are now more readily accepted by companies, albeit reluctantly.

There’s no point fighting a losing battle -so rather than banning employees from using smartphones at work, businesses are focusing on positive benefits, including:

  • Staff retention
  • Contact outside of work hours, especially in an emergency
  • Improving productivity when used to catch up on emails or work outside of work hours

Smartphone use is expected to increase 25% by 2025.

Did you know people spend an average of 4.8 hours daily on their mobiles?

In some countries, it’s higher, e.g., South Korea and Brazil, where the average daily mobile use is more than five hours. This is one distraction that isn’t going away, and businesses need to get smarter with how they encourage better habits to improve worker productivity.

Tip

Businesses can assist their workers in managing their use of smartphones during work hours by getting them to take the following actions:

  • Turn off notifications – alerts from apps
  • Switch phone to airplane mode – stops mobile connectivity
  • Turn off mobile data to distracting apps
  • Use the don’t disturb or sleep setting for longer, i.e., set it to turn off an hour after you start work
  • Set up calendar alerts for activities like reading emails, watching news, sending text messages
  • Use Pomodoro timer or another timer to focus on tasks and boost productivity

Open Plan Environment

96% of workers in this study want to change where they work. Not the business but the workplace. 65% want to work full-time, and 31% want a hybrid arrangement. The open-plan layout may be ideal for management’s staff oversight, but it’s a poor design for productivity.

Conversations

Workstation clusters group workers in close contact with their colleagues.

In an open-plan environment, there may be as many as 50 or 100 people per floor. Everyone can hear every word spoken. Clockify says that, on average, workers experience around 56 interruptions a day. Break that down, and it’s eight interruptions every hour.

An interruption every 7.5 minutes

With all the interruptions, unproductive time spent refocusing on work is two hours a day. Worker productivity per day is less than three hours. Workers want to get more done; hence, they work remotely for all or part of the week.

Temperature

Did you know women need more warmth than men? Women will wear more layers and maybe coats if their room temperature is lower than 22°C, which is the optimum room temperature for a 40-year-old 70 kg male!

If your workplace is primarily women, their requirements are 3°C (5.4F) warmer than their male counterparts.

If your office is too cold, workers will leave their desks more to make hot drinks. Similarly, workers will be lethargic and less productive if the office is too warm!

Tip

Make sure the air conditioner is working at an optimum temperature for work. 22°C (71.6F) is where you want your thermostat. What you probably don’t know is how this temperature was deemed optimum.

To reduce chatter and movement distractions, embrace remote working so half the workers are in the office simultaneously. This also allows for more space between workstations. Also, bring in nature.

Plants can provide better air conditioning, and when strategically placed, they can also use privacy, so workers are less distracted by colleagues moving around the floor.

Stress

Workplace stress reduces worker productivity and can seriously damage their health.

Stress is a silent killer. However, there are improvements to the company culture and physical surroundings that can improve work-life balance, including:

  • Set up a break-out room for naps and meditation
  • Encourage more breaks during the day
  • Fewer hours in the office – e.g., remote working
  • Encourage staff to take vacations

Workers also have a responsibility to manage their stress levels through a commitment to doing the following:

  • Sleeping regular hours
  • Daily exercise
  • Eating well

Final Thoughts

Distractions are all around us at work and at home. As a business owner, continually review and improve whatever hinders your workplace productivity. Plus, work on your company culture and empower your staff to dig deep and bring their best self to work, so it’s a win-win outcome.