Employees are as productive as the workplace allows. Distractions, such as email notifications, chatty coworkers and ringing phones, keep workers from completing tasks. How can businesses eliminate the worst workplace distractions?
Discover six efficiency tips below that lead to a more productive future.
- Multitasking — Don’t Do It
Many employees try to multitask — do more than one thing at a time. For most, however, this practice is detrimental to productivity. Instead, it becomes a massive distraction. Studies discovered that only 2.5% of the human population is capable of productive multitasking. The remainder, who switch between tasks, compromise on efficiency.
Avoid multitasking by prioritizing the day ahead. If a to-do list doesn’t cut it, use an app that keeps everything in order. The goal is to focus on one task until completion before moving onto the next.
2. Interruptions — A Break in the Flow
Researchers found it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus after switching tasks or getting distracted. If a colleague asks someone a question, even a work-related one, they’ve interrupted the workflow. It can take nearly half an hour for both to regain concentration.
Encourage employees to avoid interruptions by wearing headphones. This accessory drowns out the noises associated with office work. As a bonus, it’s a signal to others that someone is focused and not up for a casual chat. With a company-wide email or instant message platform, teach employees how to set up away and out of office auto-replies.
3. Noisy Offices — Phones and Chatty Coworkers
Many companies are embracing open floorplans instead of using cubicles and private workspaces. This technique might seem like it improves productivity. However, there’s nothing to absorb the noise of clicking keyboards, shuffling papers and chatty coworkers. The result is a distracting workspace. Sounds move by creating a microscopic domino effect between molecules, like ripples in a pond when someone tosses in a stone. With an open floorplan, these waves travel freely.
Employees can avoid noise in many ways, even in open offices. Headphones are an excellent option, but not the only one. Businesses should develop dedicated quiet spaces, as well as areas employees can be loud. Reduce noise by adding sound-absorbing materials to walls and ceilings.
4. Stress and Anxiety — A Daily Challenge
Stress and anxiety might not be causes of distraction. However, both make it hard to stay focused. The more stress one experiences, the harder it becomes to concentrate, creating a vicious cycle. This feeling might be useful in short periods to help workers meet deadlines. In the long term, though, it becomes detrimental to health. Increases in cortisol, the stress hormone, can be toxic to the brain over long periods.
Reducing stress and anxiety in the workplace can be challenging, but it’s necessary to prevent distractions from interrupting the workflow. Consider implementing meditation, yoga or mindfulness in the office to reduce stress and improve productivity.
5. Clutter — The Enemy of Productivity
The average work desk might be piled high with papers, snacks and other types of clutter. Yet this can create distractions and make it hard to focus. It may seem like a good idea to have every piece of paper within arms’ reach. However, if workers focus on the clutter, they’re not paying attention to their work. The average worker spends 4.3 hours per week searching through clutter, making it difficult to get tasks done.
Clutter is one of the most manageable distractions. Encourage employees to spend a few minutes each morning organizing their desks. For some, large spaces are an opportunity to accumulate more. Consider switching to smaller models to reduce build-up.
- Smart Phones — Tool or Distraction?
Smartphones are valuable tools, yet they’re also monumental distractions. According to one study, Americans view their smartphones an average of 52 times per day. While many people use their smartphones for business outside of work, 59% use it during working hours, too.
Typically, an outright ban on smartphones isn’t practical. Still, discouraging smartphone use while on the clock is recommended to reduce distractions and improve productivity.
Prevent Workplace Distractions and Boost Productivity
Business leaders can’t create a 100% distraction-free work environment. However, they can take steps to reduce the top six annoyances above and boost productivity.