Navigating distractions in the workplace: 5 challenges full-time workers face

4 MINS Team

Telecommuting has made it easier for businesses to meet all of their goals, from diversity to cost savings. When businesses can hire outside of their immediate area, they open up possibilities, which helps them find the perfect specialized skillset to meet all of their needs.

However, some businesses still need on-site staff, whether those workers are in the office every day or several times a week. These full-timers face their own unique challenges, especially when others in their social circle likely work from home. This is especially true of workers whose daily duties require intense focus. Here are a few distractions in the workplace that you can learn to navigate in today’s workplace.

Visual Distractions

More businesses than ever have open-plan layouts, which removes the walls that once gave workers privacy. In this type of office, full-time employees can be distracted by something as simple as a coworker going to the restroom. Compounded throughout the day, the drain on productivity can be devastating to a business’s bottom line. It also can impact your ability to retain good workers, since they’ll leave for positions that allow them to work from home. It’s important to keep these team members in mind when you’re designing your workspaces and offer distraction-free areas for when they need to focus on the task at hand.

Michael Solomon, co-founder of tech talent agency, 10x Management, speaks to this regularly. “The cost in productivity when a developer gets knocked out of the zone (aka flow state) is massive. This is why even in instances where a developer is in the same city as a customer, we often suggest that the developer work from their own environment. It is just more valuable to the company.”

Constant Questions

In an office, drop-bys are a way of life. A worker may sit down in the morning with every intention of putting in three solid hours of work before lunch. But one visit after another keeps that from happening. Whether it’s a supervisor asking for a status update or a coworker asking for help with something, the barrage of visitors takes its toll on productivity. To keep these at a minimum, businesses should encourage workers to use collaboration tools that let team members log in and share information when it’s convenient for them.

Coworker Chatter

Although employees should be hard at work, it’s almost impossible to create complete silence in an office. You’ll likely have some workers on the phone and some talking to each other, in addition to other audio distractions like coughing, sneezing, and coffee slurping. Consider using white noise to drown out ambient noise or encouraging employees to wear headphones and listen to music throughout the day. Not only will this help with focus, but music can be a great motivator, with research finding that it helps boost productivity.

Unnecessary Emails

Most business communication is conducted through email, which presents a problem for full-time employees, whether they’re in the office or working remotely. However, in-office employees can be especially susceptible to a constant flow of emails throughout the day, since they’re often part of in-office discussions that take place throughout the day. Research shows that when we’re engaged in an activity and something distracts us from it, it can take as much as 20 minutes to regain the previous momentum. This means every email could be costing your business 20 minutes of productivity from each worker. When businesses realize the real cost of excessive emails, they may be more likely to minimize them.

Excessive Meetings

Meetings have consistently been ranked as a top time-waster. Unlike many other items on the list, each meeting can take an hour or longer, depending on the nature of the gathering. Businesses that hold regular status update meetings should rethink this approach and instead find a way to get the information without forcing everyone to sit around a conference table for a long period of time. These alternatives to time-wasting meetings can re-channel employee focus to the work they need to do to build and grow your business, rather than having them feel as though they’re merely going through the motions each day.

Your workers want to be productive and do a good job, but there are so many in-office distractions, it can be difficult to concentrate. When you become aware of the various productivity zappers and take measures to remove them, morale improves and you get better results from each team member, which helps your business thrive.

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