Distractions are primal in the workplace. Even just trying to read through this article, you may very well find yourself being distracted by numerous interruptions, for example, a messenger app notification or social media.
Regardless of what the distraction may be, the point is that distractions are prevalent, especially among employees.
Often, you may find your employees working after hours or at home because they are trying to make up for the time they have spent doing non-work-related activities during working hours.
What’s worse is the pandemic hasn’t been much help either, as remote working environments are even more riddled with distractions that preoccupy an employee’s concentration.
10 Common Distractions in the Workplace
While distractions are unavoidable, that does not mean that they have no solution. Often, it is simply a matter of recognizing one, and other times, minimizing distractions requires a more holistic approach.
However, regardless of what the case may be, it is beneficial to familiarize yourself with common distractions in the workplace first.
The digital online culture does not just disrupt one’s personal relationships, but it can also disrupt time management and productivity, even while they are at work.
Employees see checking in and keeping up-to-date with the latest posts, news, and statuses as daily pressures. This is why the average person spends as much as 24 hours a week online. That’s a whole day a week that your employees are going unfocused and distracted.
To fix this, ask your team to check their most-used apps and how much time they spend using them. Next, ask them to set a goal to try and reduce that number, specifically during working hours.
Employees should not hesitate to disconnect when they need to focus on a task or simply just feel overloaded with work. Spending time away from your mobile devices does not just boost task and time management but is also beneficial for one’s health and overall well-being.
You can disconnect in the following ways:
- Turn off app notifications in settings.
- Set your status to do not disturb so that you are informing other teammates that you are busy.
- Reply to any messages and emails that you have received in bulk, not one at a time.
- Unnecessary and time-wasting apps should be deleted throughout the week and reinstalled on the weekend.
2. Unproductive Meetings
It is not unknown that office workers spend most of their time in meetings. Meetings are an inevitable part of the working world. However, if these meetings are unnecessary or not properly structured, you are inviting your employees to a meeting of distractions.
The way you can go about solving this issue is by limiting the number of meetings you have and designating days of the week that are meeting-free. When it is absolutely necessary to assemble your team, the following tips will help you run your meetings way more productively, so you don’t find your employees distracting themselves with their phones.
Keep your meetings short, have a clear agenda, and stick to your agenda. Communication should be kept open at all times of your meeting; you can do this by:
- Establishing a chat room prior to your meeting to convey the topic, have a discussion of your agenda, and distribute the associated tasks and materials amongst your team.
- During the meeting, provoke engagement and participation by utilizing incorporate collaboration tools.
- Once the meeting is complete, allow employees to provide feedback, continue the conversation, or issue any calls to action through the use of a group chat.
3. Cluttered Workspace
Cluttered workspaces smother your team’s productivity in more ways than one. Large amounts of time are wasted hunting for the items one needs throughout the day. That is without mentioning how excess clutter siphons the brainpower your team needs to focus on the task at hand.
Time should be set aside for the main purpose of getting organized. Documents should be filed away, paperwork that is no longer necessary should be shredded, any notebooks or books should be stored neatly on a shelf, and mugs or containers with food should be washed and stored away. Any essential items should be well-stocked as well but still within reach.
Cluttered workspace distraction doesn’t just apply to one’s physical workplace but their virtual workspace too. Organization apps are a good consideration when needing to organize this space.
There are many apps that are specifically designed to keep you organized and will take care of everything ranging from your timesheets and to-do lists to your expenses and receipts.
One of the most popular forms of communication methods in a workspace is Email, and as much as it allows long messages to be sent and multiple people to be informed at once, it can also be a distraction. Spam, overcrowded inboxes, and taking the time to clean it all up can distract your employee from their work.
Businesses can use an instant messaging app instead. Communication in real-time can effectively keep your employees in the loop and manage their productivity, and often, they can do it from the same platform.
Instant messaging is a more effective medium for any free-flowing conversations and any yes or no or to-the-point questions, and when an in-person conversation is impractical or even impossible, video and voice chats can be used. Broadcast messaging also helps your employees decide whether a response to your message is actually needed.
5. Social Media
Social media can be described as a double-edged sword. While it proves to be a fantastic tool for marketing and a valuable channel for customer support, it can also impact one’s productivity.
Employees often spend hours upon hours of their day accessing their favorite networks, one after the other. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and then repeat.
Your employees should be logging out of their social media accounts while at work. Any browser shortcuts to social media sites on their laptops should also be removed. If this doesn’t help, then deleting social media apps might.
Removing apps from your mobile device does not mean that they are gone forever, and they can always be reinstalled on the weekend.
This article is not advocating that your employees quit social media altogether. It is just suggesting the necessary steps that can be taken to mitigate this distraction in the workplace. Mitigating non-work-related social media creates a balance that is crucial for all-around productivity.
6. Spending Too Much Time in the Office
A common misconception that many workers have is that if they stay after hours or come in earlier, they will get more work done. This strategy, in the short run, could pay dividends, but in the long run, it can cause burnout.
Regularly getting to work early or working late can myriad other distractions that are health-related, for example, irritability, cognitive problems, and poor sleep.
Remote working, even if it is for a day or two every week, can be a solution. The recent pandemic has caused many workplaces to offer a flexible working scheme; however, if your company does not, then you should definitely breach this suggestion to your superiors.
Having some freedom over a working schedule can reduce the stress on one’s mind and body as they enhance their productivity with flexible working hours.
If the above is not possible, then employees should be taking all the steps to properly care for themselves. One of the ways they can do this is by taking smarter breaks. Instead of spending a break scrolling through social media, they can take a walk, do some meditation or yoga, or simply read a book.
Taking better care of their bodies means getting adequate sleep and having healthier eating habits which will, in turn, improve blood pressure, cognitive function, and the overall mood of an employee.
7. Unsecure Communication Apps
Everyone has that one messenger app that they favor over all others and using them in the workplace is yet another distraction. With every notification, there is a temptation to check out the meme, gifs, stickers, and viral videos you are sent, only so you can reply with your own, ultimately killing your productivity.
What’s more, personal instant messages containing private files, photos, and conversations can easily be mixed up with work-related chats. Some free instant messengers may even be fraught with security and privacy issues, solicitations, and bugs.
Employees should opt for an encrypted chat app. A much more secure way to communicate in the workplace is through a fully encrypted, peer-to-peer communication channel on a closed network.
They should also be designating time to reply to private messages, for instance, during their lunch breaks.
By doing so, they are not only minimizing the distraction of ongoing non-work and work-related conversations but also the risk of mixing the two up.
Just as distractions are a part of the workplace, so is multi-tasking, and it can be a burden to juggle a large task load using over-complicated tool kits. This can make it very difficult to focus on one task only and tune out other distractions.
Using the right software can help immensely. All-in-one team collaboration tools, for example, will eliminate your team’s need for many costly software programs and the need to switch back and forth between them. You should not be going overboard with the toolkit; rather, select a handful that will best answer the needs of your team. Unlimited file transfers and screen sharing are some useful features.
9. Poor Motivation
An individual’s motivation can suffer for numerous reasons – decision fatigue, poor relationships in the workplace, and feeling undervalued.
Regardless of the reason, poor motivation crushes overall productivity and commitment to their job. This is ultimately what makes it a lot easier for employees to be side-tracked, whether this is intentional or unintentional.
To fix an employee’s lack of motivation, you need to find the root cause of it.
Make sure you are promptly addressing any concerns or complaints and, for the long term, consider things like financial incentives, development opportunities, or team building to help increase the engagement amongst your employees. Maybe even end work early at times throughout the month to enjoy a few drinks or activities in the break room.
There is also technology that can be employed to drive motivation daily. Automating menial tasks, like live chat canned responses, digital signage, or a dashboard to display successes, inspirational quotes, and employee birthdays, amongst other things, can help improve employee motivation.
10. Lack of Delegation
The failure to efficiently delegate responsibilities and micromanaging does not just distract an employee from their task, but it also creates anxiety in relation to their job performance. This usually results in a team that is highly frustrated, stressed, and far more prone to underperformance.
A quick fix is getting to know your team. By doing so, you can identify their weaknesses, strengths, and even their area of expertise.
Employees should learn, share, and discover knowledge at their own pace rather than you having to prioritize tasks for them. Mistakes should be allowed so that they can learn from them. You only should be stepping in when your team is not performing as a unit.
5 Productivity Secrets You Should Know
- Start setting micro-goals
- Be a role model
- Make open-line communication spaces
- Create a company knowledge base through Klutch
- Host appreciation days for your employees
Minimize Distractions for Good
While this list of distractions is not exhaustive, being equipped with the knowledge of some of the most common killers of productivity is one of the ways in which you can prevent them from occurring in your team in the future.
When it comes to the use of technology, consider how you can effectively use it in the workplace and what role it plays in your team workflow. Kutch can be very useful in documenting your team’s valuable knowledge.
Organizing and collaborating on company information is a great way to create a space free from distractions. Offering plenty of features, it is a knowledge base specifically built for encouraging teamwork that is clear of distractions.