Typically, a workday is separated into different chunks of time, with few and far between productive moments.
Surrounded by thousands of distractions, noises, and mini emergencies, it’s no wonder our focus can be fleeting. Of course, some of these distractions are manageable and just a part of life. However, some office distractions and workflow interruptions are entirely preventable.
The average employee wastes almost 3 hours every day. Now, this may not seem like a lot to some. So, let’s take it a step further. Imagine having 100 employees. That’s a lot of unproductive, wasted time. To boost productivity and eliminate those wasted hours, we recommend nipping the problem in the bud.
Distractions Come from Everywhere!
So, here’s the thing about workplace distractions. They can come from multiple sources, including ourselves! While it is fun to blame everyone else, looking at them pragmatically can help us take steps to curtail them. The following are the worst distractions in the workplace. Be sure to read on for tips and tricks to avoid these interruptions and get the most out of your day.
Phones dinging, beeping and ringing can be one of the worst distractions in the office, especially with the variety of attention grabbing sounds on modern smartphones! It can jolt your nervous system and throw you off your train of thought.
It has also been shown that having your cell phone nearby decreases your own productivity. Even when a cell phone is required for the job, productivity decreases and forgetfulness increases for most workers. It is mindlessly easy to scroll through social media or text your spouse without even thinking about it. Before you know it, huge chunks of the day are wasted.
Some businesses are even banning personal cell phone use during working hours in an effort to improve productivity.
2. Noisy coworkers
Whether it's "Blabber-mouth Bob" or "Chatty Kathy" or someone else, we've all encountered noisy people in our lives. If there is one thing that break concentration, it is loud voices and conversations.
While the volume of their trumpeting voice might be enough to make you cringe, it is also the content of their conversation that draws you away from your work. Sure, many people just naturally have loud voices and everyone has a different tolerance for noise, but the bottom line suffers when employees can't focus.
Also, if you don't know who the loud person in your office is, then it might be you! :)
3. Negativity at Work
Having a positive work environment is key for productivity. When negativity creeps into your workplace, it can create numerous, pervasive distractions that lead to dejected employees and decreased productivity. Here are some of the key causes behind workplace negativity:
- Defensive communication. This type of organizational communication causes distrust and a lack of cooperation. At the same time, employees become defensive, as their self-protection instincts increase, as well as their search for excuses. Employees will spend much of their core work time simply justifying their existence or presence in this company. In its worst form, workers can even begin undermining each other.
- Authoritarian leadership. This type of work environment places all responsibility on the authority figures, limiting personal development and autonomy. When orders, rules, and work are imposed and forced, insecurity, fear of ridicule, and fear of rejection grow.
- Lack of unity and belonging to the team. When only one person makes decisions, this can lead to resistance to change, decreased involvement in tasks, and reduced productivity. As they say, there’s no “i in team.”
- Lack of motivation. Without incentivizing or company perks, employees may feel tense, uncomfortable, or dissatisfied. These feelings can lead to more aggressive emotional states and may even cause confrontations between management and staff.
We’ve all been there. Another perfunctory meeting forcing you to shift your attention yet again! In a work environment where meetings are frequent, it is difficult to set aside a block of time without interruptions for projects that require more detail. While they can have great benefits for collaboration and team building, meetings are usually way too long. This wastes valuable time that should be spent on high-priority assignments. Planning out meetings ahead of time is vital to make you and your staff more productive.
In this new virtual era, some meetings take place over Zoom or Google Meet. These online meetings produce a new set of challenges, such as a private and quiet space to sign on. In many large office spaces, there aren’t that many places other than your busy desk to talk, making virtual meetings difficult. A new requirement for all modern offices is to have a good space for video conferencing in your office.
5. Poor Environment
When the office is too cold or too hot, it can cause us to constantly reflect on how uncomfortable it is. Perhaps your office chair is itchy, or there aren’t any windows or opportunities to go outside during the day. Now, we’re not suggesting lounge chairs or couches. However, it’s important to emphasize making your workplace as comfortable, quiet, and productive as possible.
When uncomfortable, people tend to walk around and visit other desks. This can cause more of those unexpected and distracting visits. With all the commotion, you may feel that you need to be more isolated in order to concentrate. And with more than two-thirds of businesses incorporating open office layouts, many employees don’t have their own private space, which can cause a few unwanted distractions, to say the least!
6. Our Own Habits
We can often get distracted by checking personal email, surfing the internet, or scrolling through social media applications. Yes, these habits are tempting and, at times, a good way to keep in touch with others. But in the office, checking your phone, online shopping, and posting on Twitter can do more harm than good.
The truth is that it’s best to put down the phone. Maybe even hide it in another room. There are several apps that limit your screen time or disable certain applications or a set time. These are all great tools to utilize in your workplace.
7. Visits from Colleagues
We've all been there — a coworker comes over for a chat right as you are in a focused zone getting important work done. You try to be nice and they stay and chat for longer than expected, wasting your time and theirs.
Of course, unannounced visits or drop-ins are not in your control. But there are ways to keep the conversation short and sweet. Make sure to get to the point quickly if these unexpected visits occur and also take preventative measures. Set boundaries ahead of time and keep up good communication with your colleagues, so they know it’s not appropriate to turn up without warning.
These distractions can extend your workday, hamper your inspiration, and add to your workload. It’s only fair to crave a little quiet time in the midst of all this craziness. Having a focus space in your office can also provide the peace needed to allow you to get your work done!
How do we avoid these distractions?
The first step in limiting distractions is to be aware of them. Once these issues are identified, we can begin to make changes that will contribute to the improvement of our individual and collective productivity.
Here are some tips:
- Communication is key - Set boundaries and rules for others to follow, as well as yourself.
- Turn your phone off - Or, better yet, put it somewhere out of sight, out of mind.
- Plan specific agendas for all meetings - Topic by topic, minute by minute with minimal wasted time.
- Spread positivity and encouragement!
It is safe to say that companies aspire to have a favorable work environment and support their employees but just get stuck with finding solutions. So, what is the first step? Communication. In order to avoid the distractions mentioned above, each staff member and higher-up must actively communicate with each other. Employees need to feel comfortable enough to raise their hand and ask questions. The workplace needs to foster trust and growth, two essentials for honest and horizontal communication. These factors will create a strong network where no one is left hanging. When investing in your community and open communication, time is a necessary ingredient. However, it’s never wasted time, when it’s spent trying to better your office.
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