CORE HR

7 most distracting things in work and how to win with them

Employees' productivity is a combination of wellbeing, behavior, and engagement in their responsibilities. How to create a good work atmosphere for your subordinates? Find out the biggest office distractors and find out how to eliminate them.

According to the article in Harvard Business Review based on Shawn Acor’s research, satisfied employees are about 31% more productive and achieve even 37% more sales rates. So if you want to improve your company's results, the first thing you should do is to take care of the wellbeing of the employed.

A properly arranged workplace with a stimulating atmosphere, fresh air, and no distractions is a minimum an employer should provide to their subordinates to help them give their best. Both the employer and subordinate should take care of good working conditions. However, to be able to eliminate work distractors first you have to diagnose the problem.

Why is it important to take care of employees' wellbeing at work?

Stress can have a very negative impact on the human body – it makes people feel tired, stressed out and it is more difficult for them to find the motivation to work.

The American Institute of Stress report shows that 80% of employees feel stressed at work. 65% of them also stated that workplace stress has a bad impact on their work. Responders of the BetterHealthChannel's research indicated the following factors influencing their efficiency at work:

  • long hours,
  • heave workload,
  • organization culture,
  • physical work environment.

Udemy's research shows that 70% of employees have trouble focusing at work. In the same report, 36% of Gen Y and Gen Z workers admitted that they spend about 2 hours daily on checking their phone's notifications and taking care of their private life. What are the consequences of that?

  • Employees work less than they should
  • They are less productive
  • They are unable to develop their full potential at work.

To help people be more efficient at work, the first thing to do is to eliminate stress-elevating and distracting factors from their environment.

7 things that disrupt employees at work – how to deal with them?

Understanding what causes stress and troubles with focusing at work is a first step in the right direction. Every work environment is different so the distraction factors will also be different, but some of them are the same for most of the workplaces. It is good to understand how they impact employees daily to find the best way to prevent them.

1. Too many emails – the spam

Every employee gets emails – business offers, news about work projects, events in the office, and many notifications from software, newsletters, potential new clients. In 2019 daily numbers of sending emails reached 293 billion!

There is nothing surprising in the fact that too many messages and constantly popping up notifications can effectively distract from the task people should focus on. When most of those emails are not crucial, they certainly are interesting, especially when you see a flashing LED on your smartphone. But every distraction from work caused you about 25 minutes needed to be able to focus on the task again as research from the University of California.

How to solve this problem?
It is quite easy – you just have to turn off notifications about new emails. After turning notifications off, employees can decide on their own when is the right time to check the mailbox. They will not be constantly bombarded with notifications keeping them from focusing.

But not every employee can cut themselves from new messages like managers or support workers. In this case, there are other solutions:

  • setting a time for reading emails – 2 or 3 times a day in the hours when most of the messages usually come
  • creating email lists with rules in the email client – it allows getting only notifications about chosen groups or people.

Although this can be a good solution, employees might feel worried that they will miss something important. That is why the HR department should conduct the meeting with workers and propose this solution to encourage them to try it.

2. Disordered workplace

Many employees like to personalize their close space – they feel more comfortable surrounded by things they like. But too many things on the deck can be a huge distraction, especially when one is fighting with decreased motivation.

How to solve this problem?
Employers should not forbid their workers from bringing their personal objects to work. However, it is good to conduct the office meeting and introduce the clean desk rule to help employees keep their workspace clean so they can easily focus. Additionally, clean desk rule is a popular tool decreasing the risk of information leakage. When there are many documents and files on the table, it is easy to collect them or make a photo of them.

What is the situation when employees already have too many things on their desks? Then you can suggest them to use the 5S method. It consists of 5 stages

  • Rule 1S SEIRI (sorting) – pre-selection and proper ordering
  • Rule 2S SEITON (systematics) – determining the method of storage and establishing places for every item
  • Rule 3S SEISO (cleaning) – elimination of contamination and dirt
  • Rule 4S SEIKETSU (standardization) – description and documentation of new ideas and solutions, applies to both the appearance of the workplace and the creation of instructions for action
  • Ruel 5S SHITSUKE (self-discipline) – following and supporting of newly created rules and methods

It will help them in keeping their surroundings clean and will give them the feeling that the company cares about them.

Image taken from Unsplash

3. Social media and news sites

It is hard to imagine living in the era of new technologies without social media and news sites. They are letting people be constantly in touch and always up to date about the newest information from the world. All this information, however, comes with the same amount of notifications – and those can distract them better than anything else.

As research shows, the average American checks their phone 52 times a day! Even if every time they would spend only 3 minutes on their phones, daily they would spend over 2.5 hours. It is a lot of wasted time – both their private and work ones. What is more disturbing, social media addiction can reach 210 million people all over the world.

How to solve this problem?
It is worth suggesting employees turn off the notifications or internet connection on their phones during work hours. Employers should not force their subordinates to do so, but many engaged employees will turn their phones to be more productive.

To motivate employees to cut themselves from addiction notifications you can also introduce the prices system for those who will use their phones the least.

4. Noise

Every person is different and copes with noise in their own way. They are employees who are not tired of the continuous hustle and bustle in the open space, but some are unable to work in a noisy place for too long. Constant conversations, sounds of keyboard tapping, closing doors, and other usual office noises accompany employees all the time. Prolonged exposure to bothersome sounds can cause frustration, distraction, and engagement problems, which can lower productivity.

How to solve this problem?
The employer should take care of office finishing materials. It is crucial for large spaces when many people work. Using soundproofing floors and windows and separators between workstations reduce the noise level but do not prevent it completely.

If those measures are not enough, it is good to conduct a meeting with employees and set rules about not having loud conversations at desks and bigger workspaces. For some subordinates it will still not be enough – the employer can offer them noise-canceling headphones.

5. Hunger and exhaustion

Hunger makes it hard to work. It also causes worse moods which, combined with overwork fatigue, may make employees unable to stay focused. Killing hunger with food from vending machines and skipping breaks can also have many negative effects.

How to solve this problem?
It is recommended to take care of healthy food in the office – fruits, vegetables, water, and drinks without sugar. Counteracting fatigue is a bit more difficult, but the employer can meet the expectations of employees – for example by introducing a time tracking software.

Time tracking tool registers the time of the beginning and the end of work and the breaks time – like Calamari Clock In – which allows managers to easily find in the system those employees who do not go for a break to encourage them to rest.

6. Office microclimate

It is hard to find the right temperature and moisture level comfortable for all employees – especially in big workspaces full of people. When employees do not feel good physically, it is harder for them to focus and sometimes they even have to take a break just because the temperature exhausts them.

How to solve the problem?
There is no one good solution, but there are some possibilities to help people feel comfortable. By installing an air conditioner, heaters, and using windows it is possible to control the temperature. If this is not enough, employers can buy ventilators and portable heaters for employees to use if they would need them.

As for the light control – it is good to stock employees up with desk lamps and make sure that it is possible to turn the light on only for some part of the space – like half of the room for more flexibility in lighting.

7. Bad communication

There is nothing as distracting as communication biases between people in the company. When employees are not sure what to do, they should be able to quickly contact the right person.

Failure in updating relevant information – about projects, vacation limits, company events, or meetings – can completely disrupt the daily schedule of many employees at once and may significantly reduce the work pace. It is even possible for an employee to sit idly for hours waiting for their manager's commands.

How to solve this problem?
The first thing to do is introducing the company culture – rules, by which information exchange should proceed. Having a communication culture figured out and enforcing employees to follow the rules is a simple and effective way of ensuring company efficiency.

It is also worth using additional tools that facilitate information management and transfer: text communicators, video conferencing, project management, leave requests, and recruitment processes. Those tools will not only ensure better communication but also speed up the work of individual departments.

Summary

They are many factors that make it difficult to concentrate on during daily office work. It is important to define them correctly and to react quickly to their presence before they start causing harm to the organization. Focusing on responsibilities should be important both for the employer and employee, which is why companies and startups are trying to create a friendly atmosphere and environment that increase employees' productivity.

And how does your company ensure friendly work conditions? Contact us and share your experiences with us – we are extremely curious!

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