What’s the number one enemy of workplace productivity? It isn’t illness or lack of commitment; it’s small distractions. According to one study, the average worker gets interrupted from their work an average of once every three minutes. Even worse, getting back to full productivity after being interrupted often takes as long as 23 minutes. All in all, “small” interruptions cost businesses somewhere around $10,375 per person, per year, in lost productivity.
Some of the biggest workplace distractions include:
- The internet – The internet is the ultimate time-waster, whether at work or at home. Now that many workers have a computer at their desk, the temptation to check Facebook or read email can sometimes be overwhelming. Even workers who don’t have a work computer are likely to have a smart phone, tablet, or other internet-connected device they can pull out.
- Meetings – Every year, businesses waste tens of thousands of dollars on meetings. While some meetings are necessary, many workers often find themselves sitting in meetings for six or seven hours per week, costing businesses tens of thousands of dollars every year. The more meetings your employees have to attend, the less time they have to do the work they were hired to do.
- Coworkers – When people are in a group, they’re naturally going to want to talk to each other. While a certain level of banter among coworkers is fine, one particularly unfocused coworker can disrupt the concentration of everyone around them.
So, what can businesses do to combat these productivity-draining distractions?
Limit Open-Door Policies
When people know they can go into someone’s office at any time to talk, they’re going to take advantage of it whenever they can. By setting limits on when it is appropriate to visit other people’s offices, it will encourage employees to budget their time better and limit visits to whenever it’s absolutely necessary.
Restrict Internet Use
While forbidding employees from checking their email or social media even on break can cause talent to leave a company, businesses should still enforce limits on when it’s appropriate to go online.
Encourage Employees to Go Outside on Breaks
The human brain needs different kinds of stimulation, and sitting at a desk all day long doesn’t provide the full range of experience the mind needs to stay focused. Spending even just ten minutes outside between work periods can help people focus when they go back on the job.
Change It Up
When you do the same thing, in the same place, in the exact same way, every day of the week, it’s easy to become bored—and boredom leads to distraction. If the workforce is getting restless, see if there are ways to change things up a bit so that employees are more stimulated by their work.
Create a “Do Not Disturb” Sign
Have employees come up with a sign or a saying that they can use to signal their coworkers that they don’t have time to talk at that particular moment.
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