In order to manage all the technology and information that forms part of their daily work, most employees have adopted a multi-tasking lifestyle. 70% of employees work in open-plan working spaces, where interruptions and distractions are rife.
The impact of digital distraction:
Studies show that only 2% of the population can actually multitask effectively
On average, employees who use a computer for work are distracted once every 10,5 minutes and it takes more than 25 minutes on average to resume a task after being interrupted
It is estimated that interruptions cost companies more than $650 billion a year
Studies show that while working, being distracted by for example incoming calls, messages or emails lowers a person’s IQ by 10 points (the equivalent of missing a night’s sleep and twice the effect of smoking marijuana)
The average employee loses 2.1 hours of productivity a day to attend to distractions and interruptions (adding up to 68,25 working days)
Multitaskers experience a 40% drop in productivity, take 50% longer to accomplish a single task and make up to 50% more errors
The average smart phone user checks their device x47 times a day
The average time spent on smartphones is 2hrs 51 minutes a day
The neurological case against digital distractions:
When the brain is faced with two tasks, the medial prefrontal cortex divides into two so each half can focus on one task. But when a third task comes into play, it’s too much for the brain to handle at once. Consequently, accuracy drops significantly.
Is your company culture encouraging employees to speak up?
Many corporate cultures are so focused on encouraging discussions amongst employees, that it might be difficult for employees to request quiet time for the fear of not being seen as a team player. Driving a collaborative culture is important, but a hyper focus on collaboration might just negatively affect your productivity rates.
Furthermore, without an awareness of the impact that distractions have on themselves and everyone around them, employees might be less inclined to discuss their frustrations with their managers for a fear of being seen as incompetent, negative or less resilient.
A few tactics to reduce distraction and enhance productivity
Collect information on how much time you spend on technology and how much it costs in terms of wasted time and stress.
Keep your phone out of sight when in social situations.
Turn off notifications on your devices (phone, computer, tablets etc.)
Limit the number of times that you check your phone (eg leave it in a drawer at work to reduce the urge to check it every few minutes)
Identify your most important tasks, and set aside dedicated, uninterrupted time to focus on a single task at a time.
Some companies are trying to address their employees’ difficulties managing technology by eliminating voicemail and embracing apps that reward employees who shut off their mobile phones
Encourage employees to pick specific times in the day to check their emails, and to switch email notifications off during the rest of the day
Establish distraction-free locations within the office to help employees focus
When workplace distractions are reduced (for example through training or policies), 75% of employees are more productive, 57% are more motivated and 49% are happier at work
Don’t enforce a hyper-focus on collaboration and teamwork – individual work has a justified place in the high performing organisation too
Implement training programs that help employees to zone out distractions and focus their attention on their most important activities. Training programs that focus on time management, prioritisation, process optimisation and assertiveness will all help to empower employees to address the distractions in their working environment.
Cornerstone On Demand workplace productivity report