| 19 December, 2021 | 7 Min Read

9 workplace distractions can derail your employee productivity

Whether your employees are working from the office or home, there are always some distractions lurking around them. Now, some distractions are good to stimulate creativity in your team. However, when your employee is fully concentrated, even an email alert ping can waste 25 minutes.

Yes, the brain takes 25 minutes to refocus after one small distraction. And because employees get distracted after every 11 minutes, it is safe to say that your employees are highly distracted today.

A report by Udemy has further stated that workplace distractions can affect the performance and productivity of even your high potential employees.

Therefore, it is important for businesses to learn about all the modern workplace distractions to keep employees fully engaged in their work.

This article will walk you through all the distractions impacting your employee’s engagement and productivity.

9 common workplace distractions

There are numerous distractions lurking around every corner of your office, which can prevent your business from scaling up. Some distractions are unavoidable, like you can’t stop people from walking in and out of your office.

But there are a few workplace distractions that are avoidable with the right workplace policies, such as:

1. Technology

Technology is a double-edged sword here. Today, you can't thank enough technology for how much it is helping you run your operations remotely while building a good team culture. On the flip side, you can't ignore the fact that technology is creating workplace distractions for your team.

According to CareerBuilder, technology can boost productivity but can hurt it as well. The study further cited that smartphones, social media, and emails are huge productivity killers and that you might wish to hire introverted employees today.

Here are some of the common workplace distractions caused by technologies:

  • Web browsing
  • Online chatting
  • Ads
  • Online shopping
  • Games and so much more.

It is essential for HRs and managers to review employees' productivity and provide 360-degree feedback to them, so they use technology to improve their performance, not derail it.

2. Emails

Now, emails are a vital communication mode in the modern organization. It helps to maintain a proper communication flow in the organization.

But when your employees receive email while working, it is a distraction. The email ping will make employees curious, and they itch to open email while leaving their current task in the middle. This will break their workflow and concentration.

Therefore, companies should advise their employees to set a fixed time for checking email and stick to it. This way, they can better focus on the task at hand and check emails afterward.

3. Background noises

Both your office and remote employees have to deal with different background noises while working. For instance:

  • Someone walking by
  • Phone ringing
  • Coffee machine
  • Photocopy machine
  • Other employees talking and so much more.

All these background noises can make it hard for your employees to concentrate. Also, it can reduce work quality and efficiency. The best solution to avoid all the background noises is to wear noise cancellation headsets while working.

Grove HR - workplace distractions- background noises

4. Sudden meetings 

This is something that managers need to focus on. They can't interrupt their employees anytime and call them for meetings suddenly. This will completely ruin the employee's workflow and delay the operations.

Managers need to share meeting schedules with employees in advance so they can plan their work schedules accordingly. Additionally, remote employees prefer work flexibility, so sudden meetings won't work for them.

5. Cluttered work area

Besides all the physical distractions, some psychological distractions can also impact employees' productivity, such as a cluttered workplace. If your employees have messy desks or cubicles, it will affect their ability to properly think and produce desired results.

Suppose you have requested an employee to work on an annual sales report. But the employee's files are so disorganized that he or she can't access the right files on time.

Similarly, if your remote employees don't have proper desk space or work area in their home, it can impact their productivity badly. Therefore, you should encourage your employees to sort their work areas properly

6. Multitasking

You probably want your employees to juggle multiple things at one time. But unfortunately, not everyone can be a multitasker. Some people can only focus on one thing at a time. And if you push them, it will impact their performance and work quality.

In this situation, you have two options — either assign one task to your employees at one time, or you can use advanced psychometric testing to hire multitasking employees.

7. Workplace gossips

Team bonding is vital for your team and organizational culture. But it is a distraction when your employees use their working hours to gossip or talk about the latest TV show they have watched.

Managers here need to create a discreet policy about unnecessary talking in the workplace. You should tell your employees to talk only about work-related stuff during working hours and save random discussions for a lunch break.

Also, workplace gossip can ruin the cordial environment in the organization and put a strain on team members' relationships.

8. Micro-management

Being a helicopter boss will also distract your employees. If you constantly ask for updates or monitor their work, it will also distract them. They won't be able to focus on the job when they keep on sharing small developments with you.

Therefore, you need to give proper instructions to your employees before assigning a task like a timeline, work quality, etc. And then, you should check upon your employees once near the deadline date to see if things are on the right track.

9. Personal distractions

There are many personal distractions that can impact your employees' productivity as well. For example, if your employees are hungry or thirsty, they can't concentrate on the work.

Here are some other personal distractions that employees face often:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Stress
  • Temperature
  • Breaks
  • Decisions

Companies need to put proper policies and regulations for employees to reduce their personal distractions. For example, if your employee is distressed due to personal reasons, managers need to talk to them and understand their problems. Businesses can also appoint in-house psychologists to help staff deal with personal and professional stress.

Additionally, offer proper lunch, tea, and other breaks to your employees, so they don't feel distracted in any way.

How to minimize distractions in the workplace?

Workplace distractions aren’t only bad for your organization’s productivity. But it can also put your employees under stress due to lack of control, as per the American Institute of Stress.

Therefore, knowing about workplace distractions alone will not bring back productivity in your office. Instead, you have to make a few changes in your employee management policies, such as:

Asynchronous communication

Don’t rush your employees to reply to emails instantly or make vital decisions over a phone call. Instead, allow your staff some time to think and rationalize the situation before formatting a reply. This will help employees to first complete the task at hand and then focus on communication.

Focus on batch processes

The batch process means doing one task at a time in the day. For instance, instead of checking your emails after every hour, do that once a day. The batch processing helps you focus on a task with concentration and get all tasks done on time.

Developer DND signal mechanism

It might sound like high school all over again. But when you develop a ‘do not disturb’ signal mechanism in your workplace, your staff can use it while doing important tasks. The signal will tell other employees that you are busy right now and should not be distributed.

Create a critical thinking area

Open-plan offices are ideal for building cordial relationships between colleagues and keeping employees engaged. But unfortunately, open-plan offices can distract workers a lot, such as walking byers, background noises, and more.

Thus, the best solution here is to create a critical thinking zone in your office. That way, your staff can go to a quieter and less crowded area whenever they have to concentrate on a task.

Grove HR - workplace distractions - critical thinking zone


Turn off notifications

All the applications, social media, and email notifications can constantly distract your employees. So, recommend your workers to turn off notifications and only check them once they are free.

Educate your employees

The best way to control workplace distractions is to make your staff aware of the negative impact of distractions. Show them how distractions can derail their productivity and reduce chances to grow in their career.

When your employees become self-aware about all the workplace distractions, they can provide better suggestions to create an agile and focused environment in the organization.

Final remarks

Today, distractions are everywhere — from smartphones to work pressure. Thus, it is important for organizations to closely pay attention to common workplace distractions to safeguard their employees' productivity.

It takes mutual efforts from both employees and employers to deal with workplace distractions. Therefore, everyone in the organization should collaborate together to reduce workplace distractions and improve productivity.

That's it for now! But if you have any suggestions to improve workplace productivity, you are welcome to share them in the comments.

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