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Eliminate 5 Workplace Distractions to Boost 2020 Productivity

by John Stebbins on Jan 21, 2020 4:01:50 PM

On-the-job interruptions may seem innocent enough, but add them together throughout the week and they total a big hit to productivity. It’s no surprise that the primary culprits are technology-based, namely, computers and cell phones. In fact, one survey says the average employee wastes 56 minutes a day on their phones for personal reasons. But there are other habits as well that contribute to the growing amount of time wasted each day. Here are the top ways workers are spending their idle hours – and what employers can do about it.

  • Social Networking: Using social media for things like recruiting, branding, or networking has its place at work. Yet many employees – 27 percent according to research –  go to platforms like Instagram and Facebook for personal reasons like connecting with friends and family, making these apps one of the largest work distractions. While enforcing limits around social media can be tough, a better approach may be to make sure workers understand what’s expected of them in terms of performance or productivity and the consequences for falling short.
  • Meetings: Obviously some meetings are necessary and relevant, but employees can waste days in them each week, especially executives who reportedly spend 23 hours weekly in meetings. The biggest reasons behind the valuable minutes wasted are unrelated conversations and lecture-like PowerPoints that are run so long they can push employees to daydream or do other work. If you’re running a meeting, set an agenda and schedule ahead of time and stick to it.
  • Work Email: With the average office worker receiving 121 emails a day and, according to one analysis, spending 28 percent of their day reading and responding to them, the interruptions are real. One way to reduce the impact on productivity is to encourage employees to turn off notifications, only check email at regularly scheduled intervals, and either delete or archive messages after reading to avoid inbox clutter and rereading.
  • Socializing: Walking to the break room, catching up on the latest sports scores, and making weekend plans are common activities throughout the day. While these interruptions in and of themselves may not add up to much, and can be essential to morale, prolonged sessions can affect work performance. And that’s not all: employees spend hours recovering from the distractions before getting back on task. Instead, create opportunities for face-to-face interaction with scheduled activities in the workplace like exercise groups, birthday celebrations, and other opportunities.
  • Surfing the Web: Based on numerous studies, employees spend as much as three hours a day on activities like watching videos, gaming, and shopping – either from their work computers or, if the sites are blocked, from their phones or tablets. Short mental health breaks may be fine but you need to watch for abuse. One option is computer monitoring or, if you’d rather not conduct surveillance, develop a policy around use and maintain a culture of trust. And remember that distractions may be a sign of boredom so be sure employees are fully engaged.

Some downtime throughout the day can actually be good for productivity, but when the activities become more than occasional breaks, companies need to act. For more tips on boosting productivity this year, check out this hour-by-hour guide to a more productive workday and share it with employees. Or contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 401-332-9325 for additional HR assistance.


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