Top Distractions at a Workplace & How to Manage Them

As per a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, employees are said to waste over 30% of their working hours on other tasks. The primary cause for distraction is – zero points for guessing – mobile phones. Read on to know more about the top distractions at work and managing distractions at work.
top distractions at a workplace
66% of the employees that were a part of the survey admitted to checking their phones multiple times while working. With office wifi so easily accessible, it only makes it more convenient for people to check their updates. Though the survey was conducted in the U.S., it is extremely relatable globally.
The results showed that private messaging is one of the top distractions at work. Majority of the employees always have their phones within their reach. To add to that, most of the time it’s not on silent. As soon as people hear their notification tone, they pick it up and check who messaged. While this is acceptable, what it usually ends up as is a long conversation with the person.
According to the survey, here are some of the things employees spend their time on when they check their phones:

  • Personal messaging: 65%
  • Weather: 51%
  • Games: 24%
  • Shopping: 24%
  • Traffic: 12%
  • Gossip: 7%

Other reasons for checking their phone is going through their social media accounts. Checking their timeline for posts by their friends, funny comics/memes, or updates on their favorite TV shows. Realistically speaking, not a lot of people here check their phones for weather updates everyday at work. To be honest, nobody spends that long checking traffic either. We’re all very habituated with the rush hours, and only ever listen in when there’s a roadblock. Though gossip may only statistically be 7%, colleagues play a sizable role when it comes to distractions.

Here are some tips on managing distractions at work and how to try to avoid distractions at your workplace:

1) Loud music

Listening to music loudly can be distracting for the people around you. Even if you have earphones on, ensure the volume isn’t high enough for others around you to hear it. A simple solution for managing distractions at work is to listen to music softly. You’ll be able to hear your own thoughts, and won’t distract your colleagues either.

2) Social stories

What used to be just Snapchat, is now Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook as well. Stories are everywhere. People are addicted to sharing updates and videos of what they’re doing. And while there are others out there making updates, there’s the other half who’s busy watching those updates. This is majorly distracting for employees as every time the phone buzzes, it also makes them want to go check for new updates.

3) Sports score

The urge to keep track of the score when a match is going on, is real. We get it. But constantly switching between tabs can be extremely distracting, for you as well as the people around you.

4) Audible chat alerts

Apart from keeping your phones on silent, other notifications to shut down are chat alerts on your PC. Whichever platform your company uses for internal communications would require you to stay online. But having a loud tone for every incoming message will disturb your colleagues, if not you.

5) Gossiping

If you find yourself discussing irrelevant details with your colleagues, STOP. Coworkers casually walking by and starting up a conversation is a common sight in offices. It’s up to you to decide if you have the time to spend on small talk or not. If you’re taking a break, that’s all good. But while in the middle of a project, it would benefit you to ask the person to come back later.

6) Smoke breaks

Smoking is completely a choice of an individual. There is no company policy that restricts the number of cigarettes a person can have in a day. But, this consequentially leads to some employees taking unlimited smoking breaks for long periods of time. Statistics show that smokers at work spend over 5 weeks a year in smoke breaks. This further reduces their productive hours by a large amount, and of the people they drag along with them for company. Employees can have a fixed number of smoke breaks they’d like to take and stick to the schedule to reduce unnecessary wastage of time.

7) Personal phone calls

This is also one of the top distractions at work. Situations arise, attention must be paid. But to discuss how your Chachi wasn’t nice enough during dinner last night is probably not a conversation to have at your desk. You’re going to divert your attention away from your work and waste time. Along with you, the people sitting around you will also be engrossed in the conversation you’re having.

8) Micromanaging supervisor

Despite the fact that it’s a supervisor’s job to check if your tasks have been completed, sometimes they can go over the top. If you’re a manager, do not constantly bug your employees every few minutes asking, “Hey, you done with that?”, “You need to do this”, “Have they called yet?”. You’re only going to disrupt their workflow and make it harder for them to concentrate on what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s important for supervisors to do their part and help employees avoid distractions at the workplace.

9) Outside distractions

Work cultures these days allow employees the freedom of working from various spots around the office. However, misuse of this freedom would eventually result in it being counterproductive. Staring out the conference room window, or focusing on some bizarre street fight can be distracting. While it’s usually hard to realise you’re doing this, a preventive measure would be to not face the street directly.
These were some ways of managing distractions at work.If you’ve ever faced these, or know about other top distractions at work, do leave a comment below.

Sign Up for nextbigwhat newsletter

The smartest newsletter, partly written by AI.

Download, the short news app for busy professionals