Productivity levels in offices across the UK have fallen to a dramatic low, according to research from Fellowes – with a quarter of workers claiming they are unproductive for up to two hours every day.
They polled 1,250 adults to find out what distractions are keeping them from work in the office – and what their employer could do to fix it.
Top office distractions 2018 (and the percent that picked it):
- Talking with colleagues (48%)
It’s wonderful when your relationships with colleagues extend beyond work and you become real friends. However, this blending of your social life and work life does mean you sometimes have to be careful about getting your work done before the fun starts.
- Email ping pong (28%)
A back-and-forth conversation via email can often be a total waste of time – especially when you could just pick up the phone and have everything sorted in half the time.
- Checking mobile phones (24%)
In today’s world, you’re expected – or practically required – to be available and reachable 24 hours a day, in both your work and personal life. It’s exhausting and so, so distracting.
- Constant questions (21%)
“How do I put someone on hold?”
“How do I transfer a call?”
“What’s the date today?”
You know you should be polite and helpful, but when it starts impacting your workload it’s difficult to keep your cool.
- Chatty Colleagues (17%)
You’re trying your hardest to focus, but all you can hear is Charlie from accounts going on and on about Love Island, and Tony from sales moaning about how badly his draw in the World Cup office sweepstake is doing. And worse still, you have an opinion too, and you’re desperate to share it…
- Tea Breaks (14%)
Because let’s face it, it’s not just a dash to the kettle, is it? It’s the chance for a little chat with anyone else in the vicinity, it’s a chance to stretch your legs, and an opportunity to get away from your desk for a brief moment.
- Scoffing Food at desk (10%)
It’s best to save your snacking for break times – eating at your desk is kind of depressing, when you think about it. But at lunchtime, you can really take the time to enjoy your food.
- Browsing Facebook (9%)
Someone you haven’t spoken to in six years has moved to a new house. The girl that used to tease you at school now sells rip-off weight loss pills. Your mate Dave has gone on an ill-advised political rant that has more ‘anger reacts’ than likes. It’s drama, but is it actually that interesting?
- Chatting to friends on WhatsApp (6%)
It might only be Wednesday, but already you’re planning what you want to do on Friday night. While having something to look forward to might make the week go quicker, it’s unlikely to make you more productive.
- Checking Online News (5%)
It feels somewhat productive to stay on top of current affairs, but is it really helping you to complete your current task? Unless you’re a news anchor, it’s unlikely.
What can HR do to combat these distractions?
Having less pointless meetings (24%)
There’s nothing worse than being dragged into a boring meeting that you contribute nothing to when you could be cracking on with your essential tasks. Try to ensure meetings only have the essential team members present, and let people leave them if the parts relevant to them are over.
A better office environment (19%)
If you can find ways to keep your employees cool, and prevent noise from bouncing around the whole office, then your employees will find it easier to stay on-task.
More breaks (17%)
It might seem counter-intuitive, but letting people have more breaks can boost their productivity. After all, if they know they have a break coming up in ten minutes, they will probably be able to stay off their phone until then.
Better communication with team (16%)
We’ve all been there – a miscommunication means two people complete the same task independently, while something elsewhere goes neglected. Better communication means your teams can apply their skills where they are needed, with no doubling up.
Better management (16%)
A good manager knows when their staff are under the cosh and can help reduce office distractions to aid them. Maybe they will allow them to work flexibility to avoid distractions, or work from home. Speaking of…
Equipment for flexible working (16%)
To make the most of working flexibly, you need the tech to keep up. Even if it’s just giving employees access to the software they need from home or providing them with a laptop when they are out of the office.
Better office equipment (15%)
Having your computer break down every few hours certainly doesn’t help your productivity. Ensure everyone has what they need to do they day-to-day tasks, and ensure it remains well-maintained and up to date.
More holidays (15%)
It’s no secret that taking a few days (or even a few weeks) out of the office can restore your productivity levels and reduce stress. A winning idea all round.
Less tasks to do (13%)
Letting people focus on just the things they are good at, rather than trying to make them do a little of everything, can be a big help.
More duvet days (11%)
A day just to forget about the stresses of work can be like a mini-holiday. If you let your staff treat themselves to the occasional unplanned day off, you’re likely to see an uptick in their output.